Bulletin N° 396
Subject: ON FALSE FRIENDS, TROJAN HORSES, AND ORDINARY COLLABORATORS IN THE STRUGGLES BETWEEN COMMUNITY ORGANIZING AND POLITICAL LOBBYING.
26 February 2009
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
No thank you! You can count me out! I don't want to be part of your destructive Zionist Dystopia, inhabited by dangerous "Arabs," vicious "anti-Semites," and stupid "self-hating Jews". I have another vision of the future, different from your "permanent war" scenario, created by the Bush--Cheney-Paul-Dundes-Wolfowitz & Co., with financial incentives provided by surveillance and security industries, INC.
As the old and tasteless joke goes about the Second World War : the French were ready to fight the Germans to the last Englishman; so it seems that many Europeans hope that the Americans are ready to fight in the Middle East to the last Israeli.
Whose game is this anyway ? What is at stake here ? --these are questions which are never allowed to be addressed directly. If European and American universities do not encourage these debates, where will the silence lead ? To a repeat of August 1572 ?
In his book, Language, Counter-Memory, Practice, editor Donald Bouchard cites Michel Foucault describing the effect of literature on language:
Perhaps that which we should rigorously define as "literature" came into existence at precisely the moment, at the end of the eighteenth century, when a language appeared that appropriates and consumes all other languages in its lightning flash, giving birth to an obscure but dominant figure where death, the mirror and the double, and the wavelike succession of words to infinity enact their roles.(p.66)
Libraries are the enchanted domain of two major difficulties. . . . [which] have been resolved, we know, by mathematicians and tyrants (but perhaps not altogether). There is a dilemma: either all these books are already contained within the Word and they must be burned, or they are contradictory and, again, they must be burned. Rhetoric is a means of momentarily postponing the burning of libraries (but it holds out this promise for the near future, that is, for the end of time).(p.67)
We live in an era today when, once again, words have taken on a life of their own, and the illegitimate dependent power hierarchies
that populate our political landscape produce "literature" as an instrument of social control, where human speech is reduced to an occasion for possible exposure,
rather than an opportunity for authentic expression
In the 5 items
below CEIMSA readers can easily identify the logistics and tactics of tyranny, following the Faustian bargain
of forfeiting character
is an article sent to us by San Diego community organizer, Byron Morton
on "the American banking oligarchy".
is a U.S. Torture Accountability Update
by Quaker House representative, Chuck Farris
, and forwarded to us by Professor Jeanne-Henriette Louis
is a report from the Council for the National Interest Foundation
on the new Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu as a new road block to peace in Middle East Peace.
, sent to us by NYU Professor Bertell Ollman
is a statement written by Bard College Professor Joel Kovel, M.D.
on the censorship of his work for a just settlement of the Palestinian conflict: the termination of his teaching career at Bard College.
is a message from University of California Communications Professor Gary Fileds
forwarded to us from Professor Larry Portis
at The University of Montpellier on censorship imposed by Zionist organizations on the University of California at San Diego. (For an advertisement of this cancelled campus event, please see attachment at the bottom of this page.)
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3
from Byron Morton :
Date: 22 February 2009
Subject: The U.S. Banking Oligarchy.
I thought you'd be interested in this Bill Moryers show. Basically, they are acknowledging that the US banks are too big to fight. They are an oligarchy.
from : Jeanne-Henriette Louis :
Date: 23 February 2009
Subject: US Torture Accountability Update.
As the first month of the new Obama administration passes, the "Torture Accountability Movement" is growing rapidly. Discussion about how to hold reponsible those who planned or engaged in torture and other high crimes is both extensive and intensive, inside and outside of Washington. The movement has also gained momentum from recent polls, which show broad public support in the US for an inquiry into these abuses. http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2009-02-11-investigation-poll_N.htm
Heres a brief overview of the range of views on accountability, as best Ive been able to determine it. While Ill not conceal my own preferences here, the purpose is not to argue for them. Rather the hope is that this sketch can help observers at a distance understand what is going on as this20fast-moving debate unfolds.
Ive found four distinct positions on this spectrum:
First, at one end, are those we might call the Do Nothings. They argue that no action regarding torture or war crimes should be taken. Their case appears to be based on one of two rationales: either that whatever the previous administration did (including torture) was right, or at least justified; or, that it would be impossible to make a case against them that would convince a jury. Thus the result would only be years of divisive rancor, and a waste of time.
Champions of the Do Nothing view include some prominent figures in the prior administration, such as Jack Goldsmith, a former official in the White House Office of Legal Counsel which produced the infamous torture memos. Although he opposed the torture policies, of the various proposals for investigation or prosecution he says flatly, These are all bad ideas. ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/25/AR2008112501897.html )
Others include a distinguished father-son duo. The pere is a federal appeals court judge, Richard Posner, whose 2006 book, Not A Suicide Pact, The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency, justified all the actions taken by the previous regime, and more. ( http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/19/books/19kaku.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print )
The fils is Eric Posner, law professor at the University of Chicago, who is convinced that no convictions would be possible, and prosecutions are unnecessary.
The second definable position could be dubbed Investigate & Move On. US Senator Patrick Leahy, and retired Army General Anthony Taguba, who investigated the abuses at Abu Ghraib, are among those who advocate for such an inquiry. The specific form and mandate of such a probe could vary from a Congressional panel to a White House-appointed independent commission. But the outcome, beyond some detailed report, would specifically not include any effort at prosecutions, except possibly for perjury before the commission itself. Many nonprofit advocacy groups appear to be lining up behind this idea. http://www.salon.com /news/feature/2009/02/20/taguba/?source=newsletter
The third position is more forceful; these involve Investigate and Then Prosecute proposals. Congressman John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is the most visible champion of such an effort. He argues that official investigations should not rule out in advance the prosecution of those responsible for what are very serious offences. If we prosecute those who commit petty infractions, he contends, it would be hypocritical to fail to prosecute war crimes and torture. http://www.pubrecord.org/politics/604-conyers-wants-independent-panel-to-probe-bushs-torture-war-policies.html Scott Horton, a well-known human rights attorney, has also strongly supported this approach. http://www.harpers.org/archive/2009/02/hbc-90004433
The fourth and most assertive position is the call to Prosecute Now. Its proponents want the new US Attorney General, Eric Holder, to appoint a special prosecutor now, cha rged to open criminal cases as soon as possible. These prosecutions would proceed regardless of what happens on the investigation/commission front.
This call for swift prosecution is the demand of Michal Ratner, Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is representing some Guantanamo prisoners. http://www.democracynow.org/2009/2/5/despite_celebrated_orders_closing_gitmo_and It has also been advanced by David Swanson, formerly a crusader for impeachment of the previous president. Swanson has an online petition at www.democrats.com calling for Attorney General Holder to appoint a special prosecutor immediately. (The petition had almost 43000 signatures as of February 21) http://www.democrats.com/special-prosecutor-for-bush-war-crimes
A variation of this approach is that of Vincent Bugliosi, a former prosecutor and author. Bugliosi published a best-selling book called " The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder." In it he makes a case for prosecuting the former president for murder, based on having taken the US into the Iraq War under false pretenses. Starting an illegal war, Bugliosi asserts, would make the deaths of all 4200-plus US soldiers killed in the war into homicides, with Bush as the culprit. Criminal charges of homicide would be brought in a state court, because in the US murder is primarily a crime of state law rather than federal law. The charges would be brought by a local District Attorney.
There are 2200 such local District Attorneys in the US, and Bugliosi has recently sent his book to all of them, hoping to find one or more who is willing to bring a case. More information about this effort is at the website: http://www.prosecutegeorgebush.com/ . How likely is it that any of the district attorney might take up such a case? We whall soon find out.
Thats the current accountability spectrum as I see it.
The outcome of this debate is impossible to predict, but it does seem that momentum is building for some kind of accountability effort. The Do Nothing stance, at this point at least, seems to be losing ground.
While we still expect the struggle for accountability to be long, it is nonetheless moving fast, and this is an exciting time for Americans who support the restoration of human rights and the rule of law. And speaking for myself, all international efforts in the same direction are welcome and encouraged.
Fayetteville, NC 28301
from Council for the National Interest Foundation :
Date:24 February 2009
Subject: Netanyahu:The U.S. Detour to Peace.
Netanyahu:The U.S. Detour to Peace
Where does the selection of Benjamin Netanyahu to form the next Israeli coalition government leave the Mitchell Envoy in its quest for Middle East Peace?
Netanyahu is viewed by many to be a road block on an already narrowing path toward a two-state solution in Israel.
It has yet to be seen exactly how the right-winged government will be formed, but the prospects for Israel opening diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinians under their new hawkish regime are at a crossroads.
Netanyahu has promised to work with the Obama Administration, but whether President Obama plans to work with him remains to be seen.
Eyebrows are already being raised toward the United States' recent acts that have displayed subtle differences in-between the two nations' diplomatic schemes.
The Obama Administration is set to redeploy the Mitchell envoy this week, and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, will visit the region after she attends a Gaza relief Summit in Egypt. US tax-payers will help flip the bill for Israel's misconduct as Clinton is expected to pledge $900 million in reconstruction aid during the conference.
The Likud leader is in favor of expanding existing Jewish settlements in the West Bank against the wishes of the past and current US Administrations.
Coalition talks between Netanyahu and Kadima Party Leader, Tzipi Livni, have slowed to a halt as the former Foreign Minister has vowed to stay on the opposition.
Livni has neglected offers to join Netanyahu because of ideological differences regarding the "peace process." Livni has refused to abandon her commitment to peace negotiations with the Palestinians which would include small concessions of Israeli occupied territory.
Some critics question whether Livni is using the opposition platform to cement her stance on peace, or as a political tool to pry loose Netanyahu's grip on the Prime Minister post.
Livni wants to build a government where the two factions would alternate terms in power after two-years, but Netanyahu wants a Likud led coalition government that would probably cast the Kadima party in a token role.
Some critics believe a Likud lead coalition government would only use Livni to relieve some of the international pressure Israel is receiving as a result of "Operation Cast Lead's" disproportional use of military force in Gaza.
Peace talks with the Palestinians have stalled due to Hamas' refusal to release Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit.
Current Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has fired the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Military Bereau Chief, Amos Gilad, after his comments questioning the seriousness of Israel's peace efforts were published by an Israeli newspaper.
"I don't understand what they are trying to do," said Chief Gilad. "Insult the Egyptians? We've already done that. This is insanity, simply insanity. Egypt remains almost our last ally here. For what? We are harming national security. The Egyptians are exhibiting great courage."
Recent activity by the Obama Administration has caused some concern in Israel over their seemingly decreasing influence in Washington.
US Congressmen Brian Baird (D-WA) and Keith Eillison (D-MN) have recently traveled to Gaza and are offering a different tune.
"If our colleagues had seen what we have seen, I think their understanding of the situation would be significantly impacted" said Con. Baird. "They would care about what happened to the Palestinians."
Amongst great angst of the Israeli leadership the United States is weighing participation in the Durban II conference. The international symposium to fight racism was denounced by Israel and they have called on the US to do the same.
Israel has asked that the US end their pursuit of peace talks with Tehran and act quickly to end Iran's nuclear program. The Obama Administration has left the door to negotiations with Iran open, and would commit under the right circumstances.
It has been speculated that the Obama administration has tapped former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Chas Freeman, as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC). Though not yet confirmed, the Former Ambassador is noted for having an unbiased opinion towards Israel and US-Mid East Policy.
The appointment was supposedly induced by a US-Intel report produced last summer called, "Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan: Policies on Regional Issues and Support for the U.S. Goals in the Middle East."
The Intel study wasn't made public until December, and suggest that the Saudis are replacing Egypt as the Arab regional leader.
The appointment of the former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia as chairman of the NIC may have been made to correlate with the shift in the political landscape.
Could these actions by the Obama Administration signal that the US is preparing to remove the training wheels from Israel's "free ride" enabled by American tax-payers?
Netanyahu doesn't hope so.
Israel's leadership is currently toying with the possibility of initiating military operations against Syria and Iran alone.
"The General Staff is divided about the practical chances of such a campaign if Israel goes at it alone, without coordination with and assistance from the United States," said Haaretz Correspondent Amos Harel.
Israeli news publications have preemptively labeled Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas the new "axis of evil" in efforts to cast the Islamic governing bodies as villains, as the Israeli leadership begins to set the stage for a strike against Iran's attempts at nuclear advancement.
CNI will continue to monitor the Mitchell Envoy and the Israeli elections.
--CNI Communications Director can be reached at Frederick@cnionline.org
Council for the National Interest
1250 4th Street SW, Suite WG-1 Washington, DC 20024
800.296.6958 202.863.2951 Fax: 202.863.2952
from Bertell Ollman :
Date: 22 February 2009
Subject: Dr. Joel Kovel on his termination from Bard College.
Have you passed on Kovel's statement on his firing yet? I think you should.
- STATEMENT OF JOEL KOVEL REGARDING HIS TERMINATION BY BARD COLLEGE
In January, 1988, I was appointed to the Alger Hiss Chair of Social Studies at Bard College. As this was a Presidential appointment outside the tenure system, I have served under a series of contracts. The last of these was half-time (one semester on, one off, with half salary and full benefits year-round), effective from July 1, 2004, to June 30, 2009. On February 7 I received a letter from Michle Dominy, Dean of the College, informing me that my contract would not be renewed this July 1 and that I would be moved to emeritus status as of that day. She wrote that this decision was made by President Botstein, Executive Vice-President Papadimitriou and herself, in consultation with members of the Faculty Senate. This document argues that this termination of service is prejudicial and motivated neither by intellectual nor pedagogic considerations, but by political values, principally stemming from differences between myself and the Bard administration on the issue of Zionism. There is of course much more to my years at Bard than this, including another controversial subject, my work on ecosocialism (/The Enemy of Nature/). However, the evidence shows a pattern of conflict over Zionism only too reminiscent of innumerable instances in this country in which critics of Israel have been made to pay, often with their careers, for speaking out. In this instance the process culminated in a deeply flawed evaluation process which was used to justify my termination from the faculty.
A brief chronology
2002. This was the first year I spoke out nationally about Zionism. In October, my article, "Zionism's Bad Conscience," appeared in /Tikkun/. Three or four weeks later, I was called into President Leon Botstein's office, to be told my Hiss Chair was being taken away. Botstein said that he had nothing to do with the decision, then gratuitously added that it had not been made because of what I had just published about Zionism, and hastened to tell me that his views were diametrically opposed to mine.2003. In January I published a second article in /Tikkun/, "'Left-Anti-Semitism' and the Special Status of Israel," which argued for a One-State solution to the dilemmas posed by Zionism. A few weeks later, I received a phone call at home from Dean Dominy, who suggested, on behalf of Executive Vice-President Dimitri Papadimitriou, that perhaps it was time for me to retire from Bard. I declined. The result of this was an evaluation of my work and the inception, in 2004, of the current half-time contract as "Distinguished Professor."2006. I finished a draft of /Overcoming Zionism/. In January, while I was on a Fellowship in South Africa, President Botstein conducted a concert on campus of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, which he has directed since 2003. In a stunning departure from traditional concert practice, this began with the playing of the national anthems of the United States and Israel, after each of which the audience rose. Except for a handful of protestors, the event went unnoticed. I regarded it, however, as paradigmatic of the "special relationship" between the United States and Israel, one that has conduced to war in Iraq and massive human rights violations in Israel/Palestine. In December, I organized a public lecture at Bard (with Mazin Qumsiyeh) to call attention to this problem. Only one faculty person attended; the rest were students and community people; and the issue was never taken up on campus. 2007. /Overcoming Zionism/ was now on the market, arguing for a One-State solution (and sharply criticizing, among others, Martin Peretz for a scurrilous op-ed piece against Rachel Corrie in the /Los Angeles Times/. Peretz is an official in AIPAC's foreign policy think-tank, and at the time a Bard Trusteethough this latter fact was not pointed out in the book). In August, /Overcoming Zionism/ was attacked by a watchdog Zionist group, StandWithUs/ Michigan, which succeeded in pressuring the book's United States distributor, the University of Michigan Press, to remove it from circulation. An extraordinary outpouring of support (650 letters to U of M) succeeded in reversing this frank episode of book-burning. I was disturbed, however, by the fact that, with the exception of two non-tenure track faculty, there was no support from Bard in response to this egregious violation of the speech rights of a professor. When I asked President Botstein in an email why this was so, he replied that he felt I was doing quite well at taking care of myself. This was irrelevant to the obligation of a college to protect its faculty from violation of their rights of free expression all the more so, a college such as Bard with a carefully honed reputation as a bastion of academic freedom, and which indeed defines such freedom in its Faculty Handbook as a "right . . . to search for truth and understanding without interference and to disseminate his [sic] findings without intimidation." 2008. Despite some reservations by the faculty, I was able to teach a course on Zionism. In my view, and that of most of the students, it was carried off successfully. Concurrently with this, another evaluation of my work at Bard was underway. Unlike previous evaluations, in 1996 and 2003, this was enthusiastic. It was cited by Dean Dominy as instrumental in the decision to let me go.
Irregularities in the Evaluation Process
The evaluation committee included Professor Bruce Chilton, along with Professors Mark Lambert and Kyle Gann. Professor Chilton is a member of the Social Studies division, a distinguished theologian, and the campus' Protestant chaplain. He is also active in Zionist circles, as chair of the Episcopal Jewish Relations Committee in the Episcopal Diocese of New York, and a member of the Executive Committee of Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East. In this capacity he campaigns vigorously against Protestant efforts to promote divestment and sanctions against the State of Israel. Professor Chilton is particularly antagonistic to the Palestinian liberation theology movement, Sabeel, and its leader, Rev. Naim Ateek, also an Episcopal. This places him on the other side of the divide from myself, who attended a Sabeel Conference in Birmingham, MI, in October, 2008, as an invited speaker, where I met Rev. Ateek, and expressed admiration for his position. It should also be observed that Professor Chilton was active this past January in supporting Israeli aggression in Gaza. He may be heard on a national radio program on WABC, "Religion on the Line," (January 11, 2009) arguing from the Doctrine of Just War and claiming that it is anti-Semitic to criticize Israel for human rights violationsthis despite the fact that large numbers of Jews have been in the forefront of protesting Israeli crimes in Gaza. Of course, Professor Chilton has the right to his opinion as an academic and a citizen. Nonetheless, the presence of such a voice on the committee whose conclusion was instrumental in the decision to remove me from the Bard faculty is highly dubious. Most definitely, Professor Chilton should have recused himself from this position. His failure to do so, combined with the fact that the decision as a whole was made in context of adversity between myself and the Bard administration, renders the process of my termination invalid as an instance of what the College's Faculty Handbook calls a procedure "designed to evaluate each faculty member fairly and in good faith." I still strove to make my future at Bard the subject of reasonable negotiation. However, my efforts in this direction were rudely denied by Dean Dominy's curt and dismissive letter (at the urging, according to her, of Vice-President Papadimitriou) , which plainly asserted that there was nothing to talk over and that I was being handed a /fait accompli/. In view of this I considered myself left with no other option than the release of this document.
On the responsibility of intellectuals
Bard has effectively crafted for itself an image as a bastion of progressive thought. Its efforts were crowned with being anointed in 2005 by the /Princeton Review /as the second-most progressive college in the United States, the journal adding that Bard "puts the 'liberal' in 'liberal arts.'" But "liberal" thought evidently has its limits; and my work against Zionism has encountered these. A fundamental principle of mine is that the educator must criticize the injustices of the world, whether or not this involves him or her in conflict with the powers that be. The systematic failure of the academy to do so plays no small role in the perpetuation of injustice and state violence. In no sphere of political action does this principle apply more vigorously than with the question of Zionism; and in no country is this issue more strategically important than in the United States, given the fact that United States support is necessary for Israel's behavior. The worse this behavior, the more strenuous must be the suppression of criticism. I take the view, then, that Israeli human rights abuses are deeply engrained in a culture of impunity granted chiefly, though not exclusively, in the United States which culture arises from suppression of debate and open inquiry within those institutions, such as colleges, whose social role it is to enlighten the public. Therefore, if the world stands outraged at Israeli aggression in Gaza, it should also be outraged at institutions in the United States that grant Israel impunity. In my view, Bard College is one such institution. It has suppressed critical engagement with Israel and Zionism, and therefore has enabled abuses such as have occurred and are occurring in Gaza. This notion is of course, not just descriptive of a place like Bard. It is also the context within which the critic of such a place and the Zionist ideology it enables becomes marginalized, and then removed.
For further information: www.codz.org ;
Joel Kovel, "Overcoming Impunity," /The Link/ Jan-March 2009 (www.ameu.org ).
To write the Bard administration:
President Leon Botstein <president@bard. edu.
Executive Vice-President Dimitri Papadimitriou <dpapadimitrou@ bard.edu>
from Larry Portis :
Date: 24 February 2009
Subject: Cancellation of Gaza Teach-in.
Please forward. . . .
We regret to inform you that we have decided to cancel Wednesdays event. Originally, we had hoped that the forum would provide us with a critical space to elaborate on the intellectual basis of the Department of Ethnic Studies Gaza statement. However, the character of the responses that we have receivedsome of which have been specifically threatening to faculty and students who do Ethnic Studies research and teaching at UCSDindicates that this kind of intellectual, constructive engagement would not be possible at this time. We hope that in the near future, we will find a way to have a critical yet respectful community dialogue not just on Gaza but also about the various other manifestations of racial violence that continue to exist in our world.
The organizers of the Ethnic Studies Community Forum
about Racial/ Ethnic Violence in Gaza
P.S.- The Department of Ethnic Studies has issued an addendum to its previous Gaza Statement. To read it, go to: http://ethnicstudiesucsd.wordpress.com/
University of California, San Diego
Department of Communication
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0503
tel. (858) 534-2365
See my new video on Enclosure Landscapes in Palestine : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB4uxardZ1k