Friday, May 31, 2013

Israel in the gardens 2013 : A taste of the celebration to come

This Sunday June 2 from 11- 5 is Israel in  the Gardens, a joyous celebration of our heritage, our culture and our ties to our ancient homeland Israel. Its a day of fun, food, crafts and music.

Headlining at Yerba Beuna Gardens is Israeli musician and composer Mosh Ben Ari. Mosh is of Yemeni, Iraqi and Russian extraction and plays  acoustic and classic guitar, Indian sarod, Persian tar, Turkish jumbush, Moroccan ginberi and bass. In 1997 he founded the world music ensemble Sheva which included both Jewish and Muslim members.

Also performing will be the Hebrew Project, an African American choir from Stockton

And as always, the young talent of the Bay area will be on stage as well, with ensembles from Contra Costa Day School, Brandeis Hillel Day School,  and the JCCSF school of dance performing.

There will be Folk dance, Zumba, Caporeia. There will be drum circles, and short live action and animation films. There will be crafters from throughout the area exhibiting their wares. Innovation Alley will feature high tech  Israeli start-ups - participants are encouraged to bring their resumes. Businesses are hiring. Summer camps. Day Schools.  Local Non-profits. Its all at Israel in the Gardens.

Israel in the gardens
Sunday June 2, 2013 11-5
Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco

And yes, faced with the unbearable discomfort of a joyous celebration of Jewish community,  the usual suspects from Jewish Voice for Peace are planning on protesting the event.  Best ignore the crones,come inside the festival, and instead celebrate life with  20,000 of your best friends.

JVP suffers a major defeat in its campaign against Tiaa-Cref

In a major defeat for Jewish Voice for Peace and the entire BDS Movement, the SEC has ruled that investment giant Tiaa-Cref is not required to include an anti-Israel measure at its shareholder’s meeting.

The campaign against Tiaa-Cref was launched in New York City on June 10, 2010. Called by Jewish voice for Peace and  attended by members of Code Pink,  Brooklyn for Peace, Veterans for Peace, Jews Say No and  Adalah, organizers anticipated  a 3-5 year campaign, quipping  “If we had a flotilla a week it can be much faster. We don’t think we can win in 6 months or a year.”   Its now been 3 full years of fail.

From the Jewish Press, written by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner 
The antisemitic BDS movement suffered a major defeat this week when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) authorized pension fund giant TIAA-CREF to exclude a resolution calling for divestments from Israeli companies from the ballot at the fund’s upcoming shareholders meeting. The resolution, put forward by a small band of extremist shareholders, would have allowed TIAA-CREF‘s full membership to vote on the resolution at the meeting in North Carolina in July. In the wake of the SEC ruling, however, the resolution will now not be presented to the shareholders and will not be voted upon at all.

 Following the submission of the divestment resolution, TIAA-CREF officials had written to the SEC requesting that it be permitted, due to its biased and anti-Israel political content, to “take no action” on the resolution. Essentially, it was asked that they be allowed to leave it off the ballot completely and ignored.

In response to this failure, Jewish Voice for Peace declared a Day of Rage against Tiaa-Cref, asking people to flood the Tiaa-Cref Offices with phone calls. 

At their "We Divest" website,  JVP and friends provides the formula for harassing Tiaa-Cref, and provide sample scripts to read

Dial: (212) 490-9000,
Press 1, when prompted for name of person you are calling say: “Roger Ferguson”
In the past, TIAA-CREF has shut down Ferguson’s phone line in response to mass call-in actions.  Luckily, you can still get your message through by trying other lines!

1.  If the phone number does not go through at all, try calling 212-913-2803 or 866-842-2442.  Press 1, and when prompted for name of person you are calling say: Roger Ferguson
2.  If the extension to Ferguson does not work, then call another high-ranking TIAA-CREF official.  For the Chief Operating Officer, press 1 and say “Ronald Pressman”.  For the Chief Financial Officer, press 1 and say “Gina Wilson”.

Quite a change from their June 2010 planning meeting, when they said  "Tiaa-Cref is not our enemy" .

Read more about this latest BDS fail at the Jewish press

And lets offer thanks to the SEC and to Nitsana Darshan-Leitner for ensuring that 200 extremists with a narrow political agenda do not dictate the investment policy for 3.7 million people.

UPDATE from the Algeminer

A decision by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to allow a major financial services group to ignore requests from Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions activists to block investment in Israel set a precedent that could effectively end the BDS movement’s onslaught of the financial community, legal analysts told The Algemeiner.

Rather than a legal precedent in a court of law, the SEC’s decision to allow Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF), which manages $520 billion for 3.7 million people, to “take no action” on the BDS request to hear a motion at a shareholders meeting on operational grounds would offer the same protection for other major financial firms with investments in Israel....

A spokesman for TIAA-CREF explained the three pillars of its argument to the SEC: that it would be inappropriate for the financial services company to involve itself in a complex political debate; that the BDS motion was tantamount to micro-managing its management function of buying and selling stocks; and that the company already had an internal system for assessing any human rights concerns of countries where it invests.

In its decision, the SEC agreed with the final point: “There appears to be some basis for your view that the Fund may omit the proposal from the Fund’s proxy materials pursuant to Rule 14a-8(i)(10) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which permits omission of a proposal that has been substantially implemented...
 Sam Nunberg, director of the Middle East Forum’s Legal Project said, “This is a small victory for America in that our firms can go about their business, but it is a tremendous failure that more has not been done to end the BDS movement from twisting our system, ignoring our laws and lying to the good citizens of this country.”

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Smearing the Victims of Racism: Beyonce Concert Edition

So, a group of young Israelis attending a Beyonce concert in Berlin encounter a little classic anti-Semitism:

The whole article is at:

Richard Silverstein decides that no outburst of anti-Semitism is complete without a little victim-blaming:

Defend racists, attack their victims, and do it all under the name 'Tikun Olam'. How perfect.

Monday, May 27, 2013

ASUC Judicial Council : UC Berkeley divestment is unconstitutional

From the Daily Cal:

The ASUC Judicial Council has ruled parts of controversial divestment bill SB 160 unconstitutional, removing clauses that require the ASUC to divest from companies affiliated with the Israeli military.
In an opinion released Sunday, the council ruled that the ASUC Senate lacked the authority to divest ASUC funds, saying that investment decisions must be made by the ASUC Investment Committee.
“The ASUC Senate has no constitutional power to craft specific investment policies,” the opinion states. “According to the By-Laws, the only body in the ASUC with the authority and expertise to write investment policy is the Investment Committee. Thus, when the ASUC specified companies by name and issued strict directives such as ‘will divest’ in SB 160, it overstepped its legislative bounds.”
The ASUC decision, and all the UC Student Senate decisions are merely symbolic acts. The UC Regents, the governing body of the University of California  rejected  the option of divestment from Israel in 2005.   From a May 2010 statement  by the University of California Regents’ Chair and Vice Chair along with the UC President:

“The overarching question of the University of California divesting from any company is a complex one and any action considered must conform to State and federal laws, as well as to the University’s fiduciary responsibilities as a public entity to protect the security of its pension and endowment funds.  In 2005, the Regents stated that a policy of divestment from a foreign government shall be adopted by the University only when the United States government declares that  a foreign regime is committing acts of genocide. It was also noted at the time that divestment is a serious decision that should be rarely pursued....”


Former ASUC Senator George Kadifa, the sponsor of the divestment bill declares "victory" in the face of his bill being declared unconstitutional. After all, when they "lose" they  "win". Note please, his ready admission that  none of the companies listed for divestment were actually held by the ASUC.  Do you need any more proof that the parasitical SLP, the MSA and their handlers are willing to put their school and their classmates through a divisive time-consuming and agonizing process simply to further their narrow political agenda? 

"Hello Everyone,

I want to provide a final update on SB 160. On May 26th at 2:12 pm Judicial Council released their final verdict on SB 160. The final verdict is attached to this note containing a final copy of the bill. Out of a 2,932-word bill J Council removed exactly 31 words. All essential clauses calling upon the UC Regents and Berkeley campus to divest were left completely intact. The only words removed were non-essential language added at the 11th hour calling upon the ASUC to divest their funds. (The ASUC has no investments in companies profiting from the occupation and likely never will, as the Boston Trust already follows stringent  ethical investment guidelines).

SB160 passed through the legislative body, withstood a veto threat by the executive body, and the amended version of the bill has been approved as constitutional by the judicial body. There are no more hurdles the opposition can put this bill through; this bill is an official statement on behalf of the ASUC a body that represents the 35,000 students at the University of California at Berkeley.

This bill was made possible by the tireless work of hundreds of individuals and parties involved.

To the many SJP members who pushed this issue forward: Ley, Isabel, Norah, Andrea, Nathan, Husam, Taliah, Tom, Maggie, Emiliano, Joe, Jessica, and Taqwa to name but a few. Your work and dedication paid off.

To the MEMSA community at large when we all work together there is nothing we can’t do.

To the Calserve communities and in particular to their party chairs Anais LaVoie and Salih Muhammed. You were unwavering and steadfast allies. This would have been impossible with out you.

To the Senators who found the courage to stand for human rights even for a very silenced people; Nolan Pack, Jorj Pacheco,Megan Majd, Sadia Saifuddin, Emily Chen, Nils Gilbertson, Klein Lieu, Sidronio Jacobo, Daley Vertiz, and DeeJay Pepito you were all amazing

To EAVP Shahryar Abassi for his incredible oratory skills and for EVP Justin Sayarath for maintaining his objectivity. Thank you.

To President Connor Landgraf the Dwight Eisenhower of the story thank you for keeping your promise even though it may have been a difficult one to keep

A special thank you to the time and energy of those that defended SB 160 in court. Nolan Pack, Jorj Pacheco, Liz Jackson you were all fantastic

A shout out to Judicial Council for putting up with Noah Ickowitz for a month and half I’m sure that must have been a challenging experience.

To a certain egocentric, ragingly narcissistic, self interested, self aggrandizing, self victimizing and enormously self-important AIPAC bought Senator(You know who you are and so does everyone else) – Thank you for your contributions to the debate you made this a more lively and exciting experience for all of us,

To AIPAC and its minions- (including of course the previous after mentioned senator) it takes true political skill and brilliance to defend your completely indefensible and morally bankrupt position. You did so spectacularly. What your arguments lacked in honesty they made up for in creativity. Hopefully that political skill could be better used someplace else.

To J Street for their well-intentioned schizophrenia. You were our most formidable opponents, now hurry up and change sides already you would make better allies.

To the many folks that helped out in many ways but couldn’t be mentioned in the space allotted. To all those who helped but whose names must be kept secret, thank you as well, you know who you are and you were indispensable.

And last but certainly not least for the courage and heroism of the many Palestinian students at Berkeley you were an inspiration to us all.

SB 160 has passed, Berkeley students have spoken and have demanded that their university and the UC Regents divest from the occupation of Palestine. This is just the beginning.

Next stop the Regents.

Roll on You Bears!!!!"

Saturday, May 25, 2013

AMP's Apartheid Ads. The backlash continues.

What do you do when the truth doesn't serve your narrow political agenda?   American Muslims for Palestine chooses to ignore it.    In an effort to stem the backlash against their defamatory "apartheid"  ads, AMP  has urged its constituency to call the City's Board of Supervisors, claiming that “free speech” is under attack by the JCRC, a "pro occupation" organization

Pro occupation?  Since at least 2007, the JCRC has had this consensus statement on its website:

Endorsing a two state solution with equal rights for all puts JCRC squarely in the camp of the moderates, as opposed to AMP or JVP, who will not endorse the only solution that grants self determination to both the Jewish people and the Palestinian people.

From AMP:

The JCRC has issued a press release referencing a letter signed by seven SF supervisors that
     A) Condemns AMP
     B) Asks the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (Muni) to ban political speech ads
     C) Asks Muni to donate the proceeds from AMP”s ad to a fund to serve the Jewish community. (To counter the hurtful effect of Geller’s hate-speech ad, Muni donated the proceeds from it to fund a study of the health impact of Islamophobia on Arabs and Muslims in the Bay area.)

Here’s the letter:   It does none of these things.  It does not condemn AMP, only the inappropriate ads, characterizing them as "hurtful" and "alienating".   It does not ask for a ban on political speech, but rather an exploration of  "a creative solution' to this "growing war of words".  It asks that the proceeds of the ad go to the Human Rights Commission.

With its use of the term  "apartheid", and with the incendiary and inexact language  it uses to spur its constituency to action, the American Muslims for Palestine show again that are living in a truth optional world, continuing to propagate misinformation in order to promote their extremist agenda.
Fortunately seven of our City Supervisors were able see through this.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Anonymous isn't Anymore. Israel hackers expose the identity of "Anonymous"

A new twist, in the saga of Anonymous, and their epic OpIsrael fail

From the Times of Israel;

 Born on the eve of the original #OpIsrael in April, a pro-Israel hacker team called the Israel Elite Force has been responding in kind, defacing sites in Arab countries and publishing what it claims are names and passwords for credit card, Facebook, bank and email accounts, and other information that is supposed to be secure.

The IEF’s latest gambit seeks to “rip the mask off the hackers attacking Israel,” the group says in a video. A message on a hacker site and in the IEF’s Twitter feed refers web surfers to a web page listing personal details of individuals the group says are key figures in the #OpIsrael hacking operations. The information was gathered, the group said, by hackers in its own organization, and with the help of a joint team of American and Israeli hackers.

“We know who you are,” the group says on its page. “You can not hide! You can not escape!” 
Following the introduction, the page posts several full-color photos, names, locations, and IP addresses of administrators and hackers who, it says, are actively involved in attempting to hack Israeli sites, and who hail from India, Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan, and Malaysia, among other places.

In this unconfirmed and unverified report, among those exposed are:

Danisah Mohammad Anseri  Hacker and Administrator Forum
From : New Delhi, India
Ip address :
Mohamad Sabbouh  Hacker
From : Beirut, Lebanon
Ip address :

Akram.mohe hlden  Hacker
From : Amman, Jordan
Ip address :

With a new day of rage against Israeli infrastructure  “OpIsrael Reloaded,” scheduled for this Saturday, looks like things are about to get very interesting....

The United States and Israel: An Unbroken bond

The United States Senate has overwhelmingly passed Resolution 65 
(1) prevention of an Iranian nuclear weapon remains American policy; 
(2) it is essential to step up enforcement of sanctions against Iran; and
3) the United States will stand by Israel should the Jewish state feel compelled to take military action in its own defense against Iran
1st Session
S. RES. 65
Strongly supporting the full implementation of United States and international sanctions on Iran and urging the President to continue to strengthen enforcement of sanctions legislation.

February 28, 2013


April 17, 2013

Reported by Mr. MENENDEZ, with an amendment

May 22, 2013

Considered, amended, and agreed to

Strongly supporting the full implementation of United States and international sanctions on Iran and urging the President to continue to strengthen enforcement of sanctions legislation.
Whereas, on May 14, 1948, the people of Israel proclaimed the establishment of the sovereign and independent State of Israel;
Whereas, on March 28, 1949, the United States Government recognized the establishment of the new State of Israel and established full diplomatic relations;
Whereas, since its establishment nearly 65 years ago, the modern State of Israel has rebuilt a nation, forged a new and dynamic democratic society, and created a thriving economic, political, cultural, and intellectual life despite the heavy costs of war, terrorism, and unjustified diplomatic and economic boycotts against the people of Israel;
Whereas the people of Israel have established a vibrant, pluralistic, democratic political system, including freedom of speech, association, and religion; a vigorously free press; free, fair, and open elections; the rule of law; a fully independent judiciary; and other democratic principles and practices;
Whereas, since the 1979 revolution in Iran, the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran have repeatedly made threats against the existence of the State of Israel and sponsored acts of terrorism and violence against its citizens;
Whereas, on October 27, 2005, President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for a world without America and Zionism;
Whereas, in February 2012, Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei said of Israel, `The Zionist regime is a true cancer tumor on this region that should be cut off. And it definitely will be cut off.';
Whereas, in August 2012, Supreme Leader Khamenei said of Israel, `This bogus and fake Zionist outgrowth will disappear off the landscape of geography.';
Whereas, in August 2012, President Ahmadinejad said that `in the new Middle East . . . there will be no trace of the American presence and the Zionists';
Whereas the Department of State has designated the Islamic Republic of Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1984 and has characterized the Islamic Republic of Iran as the `most active state sponsor of terrorism' in the world;
Whereas the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has provided weapons, training, funding, and direction to terrorist groups, including Hamas, Hizballah, and Shiite militias in Iraq that are responsible for the murder of hundreds of United States service members and innocent civilians;
Whereas the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has provided weapons, training, and funding to the regime of Bashar al Assad that has been used to suppress and murder its own people;
Whereas, since at least the late 1980s, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has engaged in a sustained and well-documented pattern of illicit and deceptive activities to acquire a nuclear weapons capability;
Whereas, since September 2005, the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has found the Islamic Republic of Iran to be in non-compliance with its safeguards agreement with the IAEA, which Iran is obligated to undertake as a non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, done at Washington, London, and Moscow July 1, 1968, and entered into force March 5, 1970 (NPT);
Whereas the United Nations Security Council has adopted multiple resolutions since 2006 demanding of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran its full and sustained suspension of all uranium enrichment-related and reprocessing activities and its full cooperation with the IAEA on all outstanding issues related to its nuclear activities, particularly those concerning the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program;
Whereas the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has refused to comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions or to fully cooperate with the IAEA;
Whereas, in November 2011, the IAEA Director General issued a report that documented `serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme,' and affirmed that information available to the IAEA indicates that `Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device' and that some activities may be ongoing;
Whereas the Government of Iran stands in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for denying its citizens basic freedoms, including the freedoms of expression, religion, peaceful assembly and movement, and for flagrantly abusing the rights of minorities and women;
Whereas in his State of the Union Address on January 24, 2012, President Barack Obama stated, `Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.';
Whereas Congress has passed and the President has signed into law legislation imposing significant economic and diplomatic sanctions on Iran to encourage the Government of Iran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons and end its support for terrorism;
Whereas these sanctions, while having significant effect, have yet to persuade Iran to abandon its illicit pursuits and comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions;
Whereas more stringent enforcement of sanctions legislation, including elements targeting oil exports and access to foreign exchange, could still lead the Government of Iran to change course;
Whereas, in his State of the Union Address on February 12, 2013, President Obama reiterated, `The leaders of Iran must recognize that now is the time for a diplomatic solution, because a coalition stands united in demanding that they meet their obligations. And we will do what is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon.';
Whereas, on March 4, 2012, President Obama stated, `Iran's leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.';
Whereas, on October 22, 2012, President Obama said of Iran, `The clock is ticking . . . And we're going to make sure that if they do not meet the demands of the international community, then we are going to take all options necessary to make sure they don't have a nuclear weapon.';
Whereas, on May 19, 2011, President Obama stated, `Every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.';
Whereas, on September 21, 2011, President Obama stated, `America's commitment to Israel's security is unshakeable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring.';
Whereas, on March 4, 2012, President Obama stated, `And whenever an effort is made to delegitimize the state of Israel, my administration has opposed them. So there should not be a shred of doubt by now: when the chips are down, I have Israel's back.';
Whereas, on October 22, 2012, President Obama stated, `Israel is a true friend. And if Israel is attacked, America will stand with Israel. I've made that clear throughout my presidency . . . I will stand with Israel if they are attacked.';
Whereas, in December 2012, 74 United States Senators wrote to President Obama `As you begin your second term as President, we ask you to reiterate your readiness to take military action against Iran if it continues its efforts to acquire a nuclear weapon. In addition, we urge you to work with our European and Middle Eastern allies to demonstrate to the Iranians that a credible and capable multilateral coalition exists that would support a military strike if, in the end, this is unfortunately necessary.'; and
Whereas the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-150) stated that it is United States policy to support Israel's inherent right to self-defense: Now, therefore, be it


      (1) reaffirms the special bonds of friendship and cooperation that have existed between the United States and the State of Israel for more than sixty years and that enjoy overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress and among the people of the United States;
      (2) strongly supports the close military, intelligence, and security cooperation that President Obama has pursued with Israel and urges this cooperation to continue and deepen;
      (3) deplores and condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the reprehensible statements and policies of the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran threatening the security and existence of Israel;
      (4) recognizes the tremendous threat posed to the United States, the West, and Israel by the Government of Iran's continuing pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability;
      (5) reiterates that the policy of the United States is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon capability and to take such action as may be necessary to implement this policy;
      (6) reaffirms its strong support for the full implementation of United States and international sanctions on Iran and urges the President to continue and strengthen enforcement of sanctions legislation;
      (7) declares that the United States has a vital national interest in, and unbreakable commitment to, ensuring the existence, survival, and security of the State of Israel, and reaffirms United States support for Israel's right to self-defense; and
      (8) urges that, if the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran's nuclear weapons program, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with United States law and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.


    Nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization for the use of force or a declaration of war.

Take a minute and thank your Senator.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

MESA's Peter Sluglett's Orwellian World View

A training seminar for teaching students about the Israel/Palestine issue was recently held at San Jose State University. “Peace Building & Approaches to Teaching the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” was an all-day workshop for high school teachers and college and university professors on “how to educate students about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”. It was all about presenting a balanced perspective, and the composition of the panel ensured this balance- on the panel were anti-Israel Jews as well as anti-Israel non-Jews.

A letter written by the Amcha Initiative to the president of San Jose State expressed concern that the  workshop, organized by SJSU Coordinator for Middle East Studies, Professor Persis Karim, and sponsored by the SJSU Middle East Studies Program (MdES) violated "both the letter and spirit of the federally-funded USIP and Title VI grants, by engaging in anti-Israel advocacy and partisanship rather than truly educating participants about all sides of the complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict"

Nonetheless, the workshop went on as planned.

Recently California Public Records act request was sent, requesting information on the funding of the seminar.   The California Public Records Act (Statutes of 1968, Chapter 1473; currently codified as California Government Code §§ 6250 through 6276.48)  was signed into law in 1968 and requires disclosure of governmental records to the public upon request.  Its all about transparency.  Sunshine, after all, is the best disinfectant. You'd think this would be a universal value amongst academics. You'd think all progressive thinkers would agree with this.

Maybe not.

This fascinating open letter was sent by the President of the  Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) and its Committee on Academic Freedom.

In a completely  Orwellian twist, Prof. Sluglett feels that requesting the disclosure of funding sources under the California Public Records Act is harassment and an affront to academic freedom..  His organizational commitment to  "ensuring academic freedom and freedom of expression"  fell to the wayside when Tammi Benjamin was  repeatedly attacked and harassed for expressing her academic freedom and freedom of expression.

Its "free speech for me and not for thee". We've seen this all too frequently. His letter follows:

Dr. Mohammad Qayoumi

San José State University
Office of the President
Tower Hall 207, One Washington Square
San Jose, CA 95192
via fax 408-924-1199

Dear President Qayoumi:

We are writing on behalf of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) and its Committee on Academic Freedom to express concern about the response of San José State University to the ongoing controversy surrounding the April 19, 2013 workshop for high school teachers and community college faculty on teaching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that was organized by Professor Persis Karim, a member of your university’s faculty.

MESA was founded in 1966 to promote scholarship and teaching on the Middle East and North Africa. The preeminent organization in the field, the Association publishes the International Journal of Middle East Studies and has nearly 3000 members worldwide. MESA is committed to ensuring academic freedom and freedom of expression, both within the region and in connection with the study of the region in North America and elsewhere.

The workshop in question, “Peacebuilding, Nonviolence, and Approaches to Teaching the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” was organized by Professor Persis Karim of the Department of English and Comparative Literature with funding from the United States Institute of Peace. The workshop was organized to provide high school and community college educators the opportunity to explore ways of working with students that would help them understand this conflict more fully.

It is our understanding that even before the workshop took place, Professor Karim was subjected to a campaign of harassment and intimidation by individuals and organizations, mostly based outside San José State, who objected to the workshop’s content and participants. This campaign has continued even after the workshop, most recently by means of the circulation of a fabricated statement falsely attributed to Professor Karim and intended to damage her reputation, but also in the form of a request under the California Public Records Act that Professor Karim make available all documents and correspondence related to the workshop and its funding.

We are concerned that these attacks on Professor Karim and on the workshop have created an atmosphere of intimidation that threatens her academic freedom but that may also have a chilling effect on the free exchange of ideas at San José State. We are, moreover, concerned that your administration has thus far failed to defend Professor Karim’s academic freedom rights, and denounce the campaign against her, in a vigorous, unqualified and public manner.

As you are no doubt aware, the principles of academic freedom require that the right of faculty at institutions of higher education to engage in research, teaching, and public presentations be vigorously protected, even when some people may deem their views on issues of public interest to be controversial. We would also point out that no single public event sponsored by San José State or any other university can be expected, or should be required, to represent all possible perspectives on a particular conflict. Rather, universities must encourage and protect the expression of many different viewpoints, in different formats and on different occasions, in order to foster the full and free exchange of ideas and opinions.

We understand that the university must comply with all legitimate requests made under the California Public Records Act, but we are concerned that the information this particular request may yield could be used to harass and intimidate individuals involved in the workshop, whether as organizers or as participants. More broadly, we feel that such requests should not be used to further the political agenda of individuals or groups who do not share the perspectives expressed at a university-sponsored event of this kind.

We urge you to issue a strong and clear public statement expressing the university’s support for academic freedom in general and that of Professor Karim in particular, and its firm condemnation of the smear campaign being waged against her. Professor Karim and all those involved with the workshop, as well as your university’s faculty and students, need to know that San José State is fully committed to defending its faculty against efforts to harass and intimidate them when they share their expertise and their informed perspectives, in the classroom and beyond.

Peter Sluglett
MESA President
Visiting Research Professor, Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore

Singapore  is ranked in 149th position in terms of press freedom, according to an annual report by NGO Reporters without Borders.   With his selective judgement and moral hypocrisy, Prof. Sluglett must feel right at home.

Thank you, San Francisco Supervisor Scott Weiner

Thank you, Supervisors Weiner, Breed, Cohen, Farrell,  Tang and Yee,  and President of the Board Chiu. These seven have taken a principled and moral stand, and have asked the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to donate the proceeds of the highly inflammatory AMP "apartheid" Muni bus ads to the the Human Rights Commission.  The SFMTA has also been asked review their advertising policies to ensure that public transport remains a safe place for all passengers, irrespective of ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political beliefs. Please thank them for their efforts

From an article at the SF Gate Blog

When advertisements went up on Muni buses implying that Muslims are “savages,” the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency donated the revenue from the ad campaign to the Human Rights Commission. Now several supervisors are asking why the same isn’t being done for ads calling Israel an “apartheid” state.
Supervisor Scott Wiener and six of his colleagues sent a letter to MTA Executive Director Ed Reiskin Monday urging the agency to fork over the $5,030 from American Muslims for Palestine to the HRC to “be used to fight growing intolerance alienating the Jewish community.”
“I don’t think the MTA should be accepting dirty money, whether that dirty money comes from anti-Muslim bigots or whether that dirty money comes from enemies of Israel,” said Wiener, who usually never misses an opportunity to bemoan Muni’s lack of funding. “Those ads were vile, these ads are also vile.”
The ads, which run until June 6, read “End Apartheid Now!” and “Stop U.S. Aid to Israel.”
Please thank the seven Supervisors who have signed the SFMTA statement.
Scott Wiener, Supervisor, District 8, (415) 554-6968

London Breed, Supervisor, District 5, (415) 554-7630
Malia Cohen, Supervisor, District 10, (415) 554-7670

Mark Farrell, Supervisor, District 2, (415) 554-7752

Katy Tang, Supervisor, District 4, (415) 554-7460

Norman Yee, Supervisor, District 7, (415) 554-6516

David Chiu, Supervisor, District 3 and President of the Board, (415) 554-7450

The following members have not yet signed the statement. Please give them a call, and let them know how these ads defame the only democracy in the Middle east, and create an uncomfortable environment for those using public transit. Our beautiful city by the Bay should not become another battleground for the wars in the Middle East

John Avalos, Supervisor, District 11, (415) 554-6975

David Campos, Supervisor, District 9, (415) 554-5144

Jane Kim, Supervisor, District 6, (415) 554-7970

Eric Mar, Supervisor, District 1, (415) 554-7410

Monday, May 20, 2013

Campus divestment campaign is a political war on Israel

 The BDS movement is hardly a grass-roots, student run initiative. Coordinated by international organizations with hidden sources of funding,  BDS exists as part of the  Durban strategy to increasingly  isolate Israel.

From an article in the J Weekly, written by Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institute.

At university campuses, particularly in California, anti-Israel divestment debates in student government have become a spring ritual.

From San Diego to Berkeley and Davis, student senators introduce resolutions backing divestment, debate is scheduled immediately, propaganda is spread, supporters pack the halls, pro-Israel speakers are harassed (or worse), and student senators with almost no knowledge cast deciding votes. Whether the resolution (which has no practical impact) is adopted or defeated, Israel’s demonization is propagated.

 While presented under the façade of local student initiatives, this process is a central part of a much wider and well-financed campaign of political warfare against Israel. The delegitimization of Israel began with its founding, and has not stopped. In the early decades (before the pretext of occupation after the 1967 war), the Arab League boycott office, located in Damascus, persuaded many firms, including Pepsi and American Express, not to do business with Israel. And travelers with Israeli visas in their passports were barred from Arab countries.

At the U.N.’s 2001 NGO (non-governmental organization) “anti-racism” conference in Durban, South Africa, the political war was expanded to include false claims of “war crimes,” “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing” and even “genocide.” Boycott efforts were expanded to universities, churches and the media. They received a massive infusion of funds and “feet on the ground” in the form of highly politicized NGOs. The goal of this Durban strategy was clear: the complete international isolation of Israel.

On this foundation, the first campaigns for academic boycotts and divestments were launched a few months later by pro-Palestinian student groups and union officials, using the false allegations of an Israeli “massacre” in Jenin. Monthly and sometimes weekly events featured speakers under the banner of human rights who repeated the mantra of Israeli demonization. Although often focusing on post-1967 occupation and settlements, and stripped of the historic and military context, the message remained that sovereignty for the Jewish people, regardless of borders, was unacceptable. This is the core message of campus divestment campaigns, including those in California....

While local student groups opposing this form of campus-based political warfare against Israel have done a good job and have won some votes, they are inherently out-gunned by this powerful political machine. As a result, the pro-Israel students are largely on the defensive against divestment resolutions..
In order to bring an end to this spring offensive, an aggressive proactive approach and far more resources are required. To defeat divestment, the immorality of this racist propaganda must be exposed before the public campaigns begin.  This will require the extension of the anti-divestment cooperation between the pro-Israel and genuine pro-human rights groups across the ideological spectrum...
While the debate on how best to handle the complex issues of borders, security, and occupation will continue, the rejection of the demonization of Israel as a Jewish state transcends these differences.

Read the article here

At JVP endorsed Rally, Israel is wiped off the Map

On May 19, 2013,  the American Muslims for Palestine held a Nakba rally on the steps of the State capital,  in Sacramento, California.  Endorsed by Jewish Voice for Peace, who staffed a table there as well, the event's various exhibits  not only denied the ties of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland, it denied Israel's right to exist- within any borders.

American Muslims for Palestine exhibit denies the existence of Israel within any borders

American Muslims for Palestine exhibit denies the existence of Israel within any borders

All of Israel, from the River to the Sea, was labeled as "Palestine"
The sparsely attended event was meant to perpetuate AMP's cult of victimhood. Was this outrageous display mean to imply that Palestinians were still living in tents?

Faked quotes, false narratives and fabricated maps were prevalent.

This particular "information" card claimed exports and construction material were banned from Gaza.

The truth?

In April alone,  1,135 trucks containing construction material entered Gaza.  Five truckloads of flowers and three truckloads of spices were exported from Gaza.  A month earlier, in March 2013, 1,358 trucks carrying construction material entered Gaza. Nine trucks of flowers, nine trucks of date bars, two trucks of cherry tomatoes,  two trucks of furniture and 1 truck of spices were exported from Gaza.

And of course, no anti-Israel event is complete without  ubiquitous fake key photos  and the lying four part map

Fortunately, the truth is available to those who seek it.

The exhibits, the chants of "No return, no peace" and the words of the speakers at this rally make it painfully clear that that AMP, Al -Awda, Sabeel,  JVP and the other endorsers do not support a Jewish state of Israel existing side by side with an Arab state of Palestine. Their extremist  agenda does not accept the existence of Israel within any borders. These fringe groups seek to deny the Jewish people their right to self determination , through the destruction of Israel.

Human Rights Organizations Defend Tammi Rossman-Benjamin Against Attacks

From a Joint press release from the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law  and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, issued May 20, 2013, declaring that  accusations against  UC Santa Cruz lecturer Tammi Rossman-Benjamin are  "false, scurrilous, and unjustifiable"

The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (LDB) and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East today issued a Joint Statement in defense of University of California at Santa Cruz lecturer Tammi Rossman-Benjamin. Rossman-Benjamin, an activist known for her opposition to campus anti-Semitism, has recently been the target of a public campaign of character assassination because of her advocacy for the civil rights of Jewish college students. LDB and SPME joined together today to defend Rossman-Benjamin against these smears and to denounce efforts to suppress advocacy for the civil rights of university students.

Rossman-Benjamin is a co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative, an organization that combats anti-Semitism on American college and university campuses. She is also a member of the Brandeis Center's Academic Advisory Board and a former member of SPME's Board of Directors. Rossman-Benjamin has famously accused her university, UC Santa Cruz, of harboring a hostile environment for Jewish students. The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has opened an investigation into Rossman-Benjamin's complaint, which is now pending.

On June 20, 2012, Ms. Rossman-Benjamin delivered a speech at the Ahavath Torah Congregation in Stoughton, Massachusetts. During the course of that speech, Ms. Rossman-Benjamin described anti-Semitic incidents at the University of California. Ms. Rossman-Benjamin attributed some responsibility for contemporary campus anti-Semitism to two organizations, Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Students Association. Rossman-Benjamin also stated that some members of these organizations have had connections with terrorist organizations. In response to that synagogue presentation, student activists at the University of California have launched a campaign to condemn Rossman-Benjamin. As a result of this campaign, in March 2013, Associated Students at the University of California (ASUC) at Berkeley adopted a resolution that called on outgoing UC President Mark Yudof to condemn Rossman-Benjamin's remarks.

LDB and SPME jointly announced: "We find the accusations against Rossman-Benjamin to be false, scurrilous, and unjustifiable. Over the years, Rossman-Benjamin has tirelessly campaigned against anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli harassment. Perversely, Rossman-Benjamin is now being branded a purveyor of hate speech and Islamophobia precisely because she attempted to expose hate speech which her accusers would prefer to shield from scrutiny."

LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, "I have worked with Tammi Rossman-Benjamin over the years, and I consider her to be a bold and courageous fighter for the civil rights of Jewish college students. It is reprehensible that some people are targeting her for abuse because of her fight against campus anti-Semitism."

SPME President Richard Cravatts added, "We are issuing this statement to set the record straight. We have carefully reviewed the allegations against Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, and we consider them to be completely disingenuous and false. Rossman-Benjamin should be commended for her campaign against campus anti-Semitism, rather than subjected to this sort of intimidation and abuse."

Professor Alvin H. Rosenfeld, Director of The Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism at Indiana University, personally joined the Joint LDB-SPME Statement. "I know Tammi Rossman-Benjamin well," Rosenfeld commented, "and have the highest respect for her work. The allegations against her are patently false. Rossman-Benjamin is a tenacious advocate for students' rights as well as free speech. Hers is a vital, much-needed academic voice, and efforts to silence or intimidate her for her dedicated opposition to campus anti-Semitism need to be strongly resisted."

The LDB-SPME joint statement provides in full as follows:

Joint Statement in Support of Tammi Rossman-Benjamin

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law are committed to the civil and human rights of all students and professors in higher education, and we are firmly opposed to all forms of anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim discrimination. We are also strongly opposed to frivolous assertions of bias that are used to squelch the free exchange of ideas or to intimidate civil rights complainants. For this reason, we must publicly assert our support for University of California at Santa Cruz lecturer Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a civil rights activist who has lately been subjected to a campaign of calumny, character assassination, and abuse as a result of her courageous advocacy for the civil rights of Jewish college students.

Ms. Rossman-Benjamin is a co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative, an organization that investigates, documents, educates about, and combats anti-Semitism at institutions of higher education in the U.S. In response to Ms. Rossman-Benjamin's complaint, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation into such incidents on her own campus.

On June 20, 2012, Ms. Rossman-Benjamin delivered a speech at the Ahavath Torah Congregation in Stoughton, Massachusetts. During the course of that speech, Ms. Rossman-Benjamin described anti-Semitic incidents at the University of California. Ms. Rossman-Benjamin attributed some responsibility for contemporary campus anti-Semitism to two organizations, Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Students Association. Ms. Rossman-Benjamin also conveyed widely published reports indicating ties between the MSA and terrorist organizations.

In response, one of these organizations has launched a campaign of character assassination against Ms. Rossman-Benjmain. This campaign has included the use of flyers, blogs, and social media, as well as efforts to influence student governmental organizations. In March 2013, Associated Students at the University of California (ASUC) at Berkeley adopted a resolution "condemning Islamophobic hate speech at the University of California," and called on outgoing UC President Mark Yudof to specifically condemn the "inflammatory, hateful, and racist assumptions by UCSC lecturer Tammi Rossman-Benjamin against Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian students, and Palestinian rights activists."

Like the ASUC, we also condemn Islamophobic hate speech, both at the University of California and wherever else it occurs. However, we also condemn false invocations of Islamophobia that are used to silence or intimidate advocates for civil and human rights.

The ASUC resolution singles out Rossman-Benjamin for her alleged "hate speech," contending that it is part of a continuing pattern "to mischaracterize and chill Palestinian activism" as the result of "a lawsuit filed in July 2011. . . against the UC Regents . . . containing extremely Islamophobic and anti-Arab rhetoric referring to Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslims Students Association as ‘anti-Semitic' and ‘pro-terrorist'" and that her comments "constitute inflammatory, hateful, and racist assumptions . . . against Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian students, and Palestinian rights activists." Ms. Rossman-Benjamin is not a party to the 2011 lawsuit.

We are also concerned about reports indicating that the University of California at Santa Cruz may be taking retaliatory action against Rossman-Benjamin based on her civil rights advocacy and her expression of constitutionally protected free speech. The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has recently warned recipients of federal financial aid that they may not retaliate against civil rights complainants and witnesses. In April 2013, Acting U.S. Secretary of Education advised educational institutions that the "ability of individuals to oppose discriminatory practices, and to participate in OCR investigations and other proceedings, is critical to ensuring equal educational opportunity in accordance with Federal civil rights laws." The failure to do so may be a violation of federal civil rights laws, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

We find the accusations against Rossman-Benjamin to be false, scurrilous, and unjustifiable. Over the years, Rossman-Benjamin has tirelessly campaigned against anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli harassment. Perversely, Rossman-Benjamin is now being branded a purveyor of hate speech and Islamophobia precisely because she attempted to expose hate speech which her accusers would prefer to shield from scrutiny.

Student organizations properly enjoy freedom of speech to express their opinions at public universities, even when those opinions are factually and morally unsupportable. But those who wish to enjoy protected speech and unfettered expression on campuses also should expect that others, with dissenting viewpoints, will, and should, express those as well, especially if, as is the case with Rossman-Benjamin, they perceive the conduct of campus activists to be inimical to a civil community of scholarship and harmful to a targeted group of students.

If victims of anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice are not allowed to protest instances of this hatred, without fear of persecution, then civil rights violations will go unchecked. Those who wish to exploit academic free speech for their own causes certainly cannot deny that same freedom to others in the marketplace of ideas.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Palestinians Love Caterpillar. Why doesn't JVP?

Nearly every divestment initiative that hits American campuses and church groups insists that the institution divest from Caterpillar, a manufacturer of construction equipment that  supplies bulldozers to Israel  that allegedly are "complicit in the destruction of Palestinian homes".  In particular,  Jewish Voice for Peace has become obsessed with Caterpillar, regularly stalking their meetings, shareholder events, and social media sites. Their latest campaign has been to pressure and bully the  investment giant Tiaa-Cref  to withdraw its holdings from Caterpillar.

JVP  remains  oblivious to the fact that the Palestinians themselves have not divested from Caterpillar.  In this youtube from last year, the Palestinians celebrate the delivery of new Caterpillar equipment to the West Bank.  Maybe someone needs to remind them of the Palestinian "civil society" call to boycott.
There are Caterpillar dealerships in both Gaza and in Ramallah, incidentally.

Why does JVP insist that Americans be more Palestinian than the Palestinians? Why does JVP insist that American institutions divest from Caterpillar, when  Palestinian institutions refuse to?

Friday, May 17, 2013

AMP Muni Apartheid Ads. Press Conference Fail

Its not about the ads.  It never was.  The ads serve primarily as a convenient catalyst for garnering publicity.  With over 90,000 dead in Syria, over a million refugees from the civil war and no end in sight,  its very important to have these continuous reminders that after all, its all Israel's fault. Even if its not.   It was inconceivable that Hatem Bazien and his friends from American Muslims for Palestine would plunk down the money for advertisements without a press conference, to pat themselves on the back and roil about their eternal victim hood.  They did not disappoint.

Photos from the American Muslims for Palestine Press Conference earlier this week from their Facebook page

Lynn Gottleib and Hassan Fouda at American Muslims for Palestine Press Conference

Hassan Fouda is a regular at Bay area Anti-Israel events.  Sometimes he likes to pretend he's a Jew.

Anti-Israel activist Hassan Fouda posing as a Jew
Hassam wasn't needed to Jew-wash this time. His friends from Jewish Voice for Peace happily provided that service

Lynn Gottleib, Cecilie Surasky, Hatem Bazian and Hassan Fouda at AMP press conference
Partners in Solidarity: JVP forms alliances with some of the most extremist anti-Israel groups in the area.

Ultimately,  only the San Francisco Examiner  ran the story, but  they didn't give the extremists quite the publicity they craved, stating  "The “apartheid” campaign is the latest in a series of messages on Muni vehicles related to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East."  Yep.  That's "apartheid"  in parentheses.  The Examiner article was followed by an op-ed written by  Rev. Dr. Kenneth Meshoe, a member of the South African Parliament,  president of the African Christian Democratic Party and a black South African who lived under apartheid.

Dr. Meshoe wrote:

....In my view, Israel cannot be compared to apartheid in South Africa. Those who make the accusation expose their ignorance of what apartheid really is.

Apartheid was a legal system of segregation and oppression based on skin color, with a very small white minority dominating over the vast majority of people of color....

 I believe that it is slanderous and deceptive for Israel’s self-defense measures against the terrorists’ campaign of suicide bombing, rocket attacks and other acts of terrorism that have occurred, and continue to occur, to be labeled as apartheid. I am shocked by the claim that the free, diverse, democratic state of Israel practices apartheid. This ridiculous accusation trivializes the word apartheid, minimizing and belittling the magnitude of the racism and suffering endured by South Africans of color.
I urge all people, young people in particular, to visit Israel and learn the facts for themselves so that they can confidently refute these false allegations against Israel. The misapplication of the term apartheid makes a mockery of a grievous injustice and threatens to undermine the true meaning of the term.

 In my view, Israel is a model of democracy, inclusion and pluralism that can be emulated by many nations, particularly in the Middle East.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Dutton Hall at UC Davis Occupied by Anti-Israel activists

Today, Dutton hall at U.C. Davis was "occupied"  by anti-Israel activists, using banners and tactics recycled from earlier protests. Yawn.  Its just a very public tantrum following the defeat of an Israel divestment initiative at Davis.

The photos are just charming.

Via the Davis Vanguard

This posting from the comments section is particularly interesting

From J.R., posted 05/16/13 - 06:04 PM
I walked by and saw some interesting signs pasted on the building's windows.
One said "Sharia Law".
Wishful thinking I suppose.

A university official told me that this was organized by outsiders, not students. 

More details as they become available....

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Anti-Semite Gilad Atzmon's New Venue: An Oakland Auto Body Shop

On previous trips to the Bay Area, notorious anti-Semite Gilad Atzmon performed at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists,  the Lake Merrit Methodist Church and in the Islamic Cultural Center.

Tomorrow, he is playing in an  Oakland Auto Body Shop.   Other than a sinking ship, or a dark alleyway, can you imagine a better venue for the holocaust denying racist, who has been condemned by everyone from the Electronic Intifada's Ali Abunimeh to the ADL?

7pm Wednesday May 15th
Uptown Body Shop
401 26th St., Oakland,
510.224.3518 19th St. BART
$10-$20 suggested donation, no one turned away for lack of funds

From the ISM announcement

Gilad Atzmon was born in Israeli occupied Palestine in 1963 and had his
musical training at the Rubin Academy of Music, Jerusalem (Composition and
Jazz). As a multi-instrumentalist he plays Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Baritone
Saxes, Clarinet and Flutes.

Occupied Palestine, 1963? Remember that when people say to you "What about the Settlements?"

Gilad Atzmon's own words:

*  To regard Hitler as the ultimate evil is nothing but surrendering to the Zio-centric discourse. To regard Hitler as the wickedest man and the Third Reich as the embodiment of evilness is to let Israel off the hook.

*  We should never compare Israel to Nazi Germany. As far as evilness is concerned, we should now let Israel take the lead.

* I'm not going to say whether it is right or not to burn down a synagogue, I can see that it is a rational act.

*  We must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very
seriously.... American Jewry makes any debate on whether the 'Protocols of the elder of Zion' are an
authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews do try to control the world, by proxy.

* I'm anti-Jewish, not anti-Jews. I think Jewish ideology is driving our planet into a catastrophe and we must stop.

Want to help keep Oakland hate-free?  Drop the Uptown Body Shop a line
Its likely they have no idea what they are hosting, so be polite and respectful.