When I was a student math was never my favourite subject ….. now I can see why.
Alabama teacher gave middle school students a math test so racist you have to it see to believe it
An as-of-yet unnamed language arts teacher at Burns Middle School in Mobile, Alabama, is on administrative leave after giving 8th grade students a shockingly racist math test. Erica Hall’s son was so shocked that he snuck a photo of the test and sent it to his mom.
From Fox 10:
“They took it as a joke, and she told them that it wasn’t it a joke, and they had to complete it, and turn it in,” Hall said.
Erica Hall and her husband headed to the school Tuesday for some answers.
A sample of the questions on the test:
“Tyrone knocked up 4 girls in the gang. There are 20 girls in his gang. What is the exact percentage of girls Tyrone knocked up?”
Fox10 reporter Renee Dials researched the origins of the test:
FOX10 News did some research to try to find out where the test may have originated. What we discovered is that it apparently has a long history. Similar versions of the 10-question quiz have been turning up in classrooms across the country since the 1990s.
And, a lot of teachers have ended up in hot water over the test in several states including Texas, California, and New Mexico.
The teacher no doubt found the test from her racist uncle who hit forward on a hilariously racist email that has been circulating for 20 years. Parents and students told Fox10 the teacher was retiring at the end of the school year. This sounds like it may have been an attempt to go out in one big blazing ball of racist glory. You can see interviews with parents and students in this report from Fox10.
Who said Israel was the only Democracy in the Middle East?
Obviously someone that never read the following two reports …
Haredi school admits only 5 Sephardic girls
Education Ministry cancels registration of girls to New Beit Yaakov seminary in ultra-Orthodox city of Elad after learning that 83% of students accepted for next school year are Ashkenazi.
Read the full report HERE
Even worse is the fact that Sephardic leaders endorse this madness
Rabbi’s ban on women’s studies embarrasses Shas
After haredi movement’s new spiritual leader rules that women must not pursue academic degree, members present three letters in which late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef encouraged women to study.
Full report HERE
Now it’s girls of Sephardic origin …
And some of us DID SPEAK OUT!
Israel denies entry to American teacher working in West Bank
After failing to satisfactorily answer security questions, the American daughter of Palestinians was turned away from Israel en route to her job teaching English in Ramallah.
An American citizen who teaches English in Ramallah was denied entry to Israel at Ben-Gurion International Airport Tuesday, even though she has a valid one-year multiple-entrance visa.
The Shin Bet security service said in a statement she was turned her away for refusing to cooperate under questioning on security issues.
Nour Joudah, 25, is the daughter of Palestinians who became naturalized citizens of the United States. Her father, a retired history professor, was born in Ashdod. She has visited the country several times, both with her parents and without them. She teaches full-time at the West Bank City of Ramallah’s Friends School, which is run by the Quakers (Friends United Meeting), a Christian religious order headquartered in Indiana.
In August 2012, Joudah received a three-month entrance visa after reporting the purpose of her arrival – to teach and live in Ramallah. In September, she received a visa from the Interior Ministry that allowed her multiple entrances and exits from the country for a year. Her request for the visa was submitted through USAID, the American international aid agency.
Joudah went to Amman for Christmas, and when she returned in early January, she was refused entry at the Allenby Crossing. When inquiries were made on her behalf by attorney Emily Schaeffer, the Border Crossing Administration representative said the decision was made for security reasons, but did not elaborate.
While Schaeffer was preparing an appeal, Joudah contacted U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who represents the district of Texas where Joudah’s parents live. Jackson Lee contacted the Israeli Embassy in Washington, which suggested that Joudah try to re-enter through Ben-Gurion airport to give the authorities a chance to reconsider their position.
After landing at the airport on Monday, she was questioned twice, once for half an hour and once for 20 minutes, and then held in custody for several more hours. On Monday evening, she was told that she was being refused entry and would be put on a plane back to Amman Tuesday morning.
Joudah told Haaretz that at the airport, investigators from the Shin Bet Security Service asked her many questions they would have known the answers to since they were covered in her request for the year-long visa and during her questioning at Allenby, including the names of her relatives in the country, the reason she was coming and previous places she had taught.
She was also asked if she knew any prisoners, a question she had not answered previously. When she said she did not, the Shin Bet members asked her whether she knew anyone who had a relative in prison. She answered that it was possible but that she does not ask everyone she meets whether they have a relative in prison.
They asked her if she had written any articles while she was here. She answered that she had, but a simple Google search, she told Haaretz, would have turned up the two articles she had written for a local American paper.
According to Joudah, toward the end of her questioning, she was asked to provide information about people she had met in Ramallah between August and December 2012. She replied that she does not record details about every person she meets and that she would not give information about her friends and acquaintances – Palestinians or foreign citizens – in any case.
Joudah noted that a USAID representative, who had helped coordinate her visa, came from Tel Aviv to the airport and sat with her for several hours. She said he was also questioned.
In response to a request for comment, the Shin Bet said in a statement, “An American citizen whose family comes from the Gaza Strip was refused entry on Jan. 5 after failing to cooperate under questioning on security-related matters. After it was made clear to all involved that if she cooperated her entry would be considered, she returned on Feb. 25 for additional questioning. On this occasion too she refused to cooperate to the extent required, and her entry was refused.”
On Monday, Schaeffer submitted an urgent appeal to cancel the denial of entry or to at least allow Joudah to respond to whatever claims were being made against her. But Central District Court Judge Avraham Yaakov denied the petition, saying the administrative procedures had not yet been fully utilized. Schaeffer said her appeal to the Interior Ministry against the denial of entry had been submitted more than two weeks ago and that although the ministry had promised a preliminary answer by Feb. 24, this promise was not kept.
Mayor Bloomberg Backs Brooklyn College in Flap Over Boycott Israel Panel
‘Go to North Korea’ to Escape Disputes, Mayor Tells Critics
By Josh Nathan-Kazis
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg harshly criticized city officials who had called on Brooklyn College’s political science department to drop their sponsorship of a pro-BDS panel.
Stipulating that he “couldn’t disagree more violently” with the movement that seeks to impose boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel, Bloomberg said he believed an academic department should be allowed to sponsor any sort of panel it liked.
“If you want to go to a university where the government decides what kind of subjects are fit for discussion, I suggest you apply to a school in North Korea,” Bloomberg said at a press conference today.
The panel, featuring two prominent supporters of the BDS movement, is scheduled to take place on February 6. It’s drawn criticism from Jewish activists and from public officials.
Bloomberg’s statement amounted to a stark rejection of a January 29 letter to Brooklyn College from New York City Council members Lew Fidler and David Greenfield, among others, implicitly threatening the school’s public funding for sponsoring the panel.
At today’s press conference, Bloomberg specifically criticized the threats to CUNY funding. “The last thing we need is for members of our City Council or State Legislature to be micromanaging the kinds of programs that our public universities run and base funding decisions on the political views of professors,” the mayor said.
Progressive Democrats have also criticized Brooklyn College’s political science department. In a January 31 letter that did not threaten the school’s funding, a group of Democrats led by Congressman Jerry Nadler and New York City Councilman Brad Lander asked the political science department to withdraw their co-sponsorship of the panel. In a second letter sent February 6, the same group reasserted that they had not threatened CUNY funding.
Critics of the officials’ push against the panel saw Bloomberg’s comments as a major win. “That’s a very strong endorsement of my department’s position,” wrote Corey Robin, a professor in the Brooklyn College political science department, in a blog post about the speech.
Schools to teach about Zionist leaders. Ben-Gurion (Photo: AFP)
State mandates schools to teach Zionist values
With school year fast approaching, Education Ministry orders schools to put emphasis on national anthem and symbols
The title for this post appears as is assuming that ‘zionist values’ =hatred.
The report from Ynet can be read HERE
Book review: how Israeli school textbooks teach kids to hate
At the height of Israel’s brutal 2008-09 assault on the Gaza Strip, then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni claimed that “Palestinians teach their children to hate us and we teach love thy neighbor” (232).
The first part of this myth is propagated by people like US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and more recently Newt Gingrich, who both spread the baseless claim that Palestinian schoolbooks teach anti-Semitism. This calumny originated with anti-Palestinian propagandandists such as Israeli settler Itamar Marcus and his “Palestinian Media Watch.”
In an important new book, Palestine in Israeli School Books, Israeli language and education professor Nurit Peled-Elhanan buries the second part of Livni’s myth once and for all.
Peled-Elhanan examines 17 Israeli school textbooks on history, geography and civic studies. Her conclusions are an indictment of the Israeli system of indoctrination and its cultivation of anti-Arab racism from an early age: “The books studied here harness the past to the benefit of the … Israeli policy of expansion, whether they were published during leftist or right-wing [education] ministries” (224).
She goes into great detail, examining and exposing the sometimes complex and subtle ways this is achieved. Her expertise in semiotics (the study of signs and symbols) comes to the fore.
Inculcation of anti-Palestinian ideology in the minds of Israel’s youth is achieved in the books through the use of exclusion and absence: “none of the textbooks studied here includes, whether verbally or visually, any positive cultural or social aspect of Palestinian life-world: neither literature nor poetry, neither history nor agriculture, neither art nor architecture, neither customs nor traditions are ever mentioned” (49).
Palestinians marginalized, demonized by Israeli textbooks
On the occasions Palestinians (including Palestinian citizens of Israel) are mentioned, it is in an overwhelmingly negative, Orientalist and demeaning light: “all [the books] represent [Palestinians] in racist icons or demeaning classificatory images such as terrorists, refugees and primitive farmers — the three ‘problems’ they constitute for Israel” (49).
“For example in MTII [Modern Times II, a 1999 history text book] there are only two photographs of Palestinians, one of face-covered Palestinian children throwing stones ‘at our forces’ … [t]he other photograph is of ‘refugees’ … placed in a nameless street” (72).
This what Peled-Elhanan terms “strategies of negative representation.” She explains that “Palestinians are often referred to as ‘the Palestinian problem.’” While this expression is even used by writers considered “progressive,” the term “was salient in the ultra-right-wing ideology and propaganda of Meir Kahane,” the late Israeli politician and rabbi who openly called for the Palestinians to be expelled. Peled-Elhanan finds this disturbing, coming as it does “only 60 years after the Jews were called ‘The Jewish Problem’ ” (65).
She reprints examples of the crude Orientalist cartoon representations of Arabs, “imported into Israeli school book [sic] from European illustrations of books such as The Arabian Nights” (74). Arab men stand, dressed in Oriental garb, often riding camels. The cartoons of Arab women show them seated submissively, dressed in traditional outfits. Meanwhile, two Israelis on the same page are “depicted as a ‘normal’ — though caricaturistic — Western couple, unmarked by any ‘Jewish’ or ‘other’ object-signs” (110-11). The message is clear: Arabs do not belong here with “us.”
Justifications for massacre
Peled-Elhanan concludes: “The books studied here present Israeli-Jewish culture as superior to the Arab-Palestinian one, Israeli-Jewish concepts of progress as superior to Palestinian-Arab way of life and Israeli-Jewish behavior as aligning with universal values” (230).
While Israeli war crimes are not entirely ignored, the textbooks do their best to downplay or justify massacres and ethnic cleansing. “[T]he Israeli version of events are stated as objective facts, while the Palestinian-Arab versions are stated as possibility, realized in openings such as ‘According to the Arab version’ … [or] ‘Dier [sic.] Yassin became a myth in the Palestinian narrative … a horrifying negative image of the Jewish conqueror in the eyes of Israel’s Arabs’ ” (50-1).
Deir Yassin was a Palestinian village where, in 1948, a notorious massacre of around 100 persons by terrorists from the Zionist militas Irgun, Lehi and Hagana took place. Yet note in the example above that is is only the negative image of Israel that is “horrifying.” The massacre of unarmed men, women and children is otherwise not a cause for concern.
Israeli education going backwards
With reference to previous studies of Israeli school textbooks, Peled-Elhanan finds that, despite some signs of improvement in the 1990s, the more recent books she examined have if anything got worse. The issue of the Nakba, the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948, is for the most part not ignored, but instead justified.
For example, in all the books mentioning Deir Yassin, the massacre is justified because: “the slaughter of friendly Palestinians brought about the flight of other Palestinians which enabled the establishment of a coherent Jewish state” — a result so self-evidently good it doesn’t need explaining (178).
Contrary to the hope of previous studies “for ‘the appearance of a new narrative in [Israeli] history textbooks’ … some of the most recent school books (2003-09) regress to the ‘first generation’ [1950s] accounts — when archival information was less accessible — and are, like them ‘replete with bias, prejudice, errors, [and] misrepresentations’ ” (228).
There is some sloppy editing here, and the academic jargon at times slips into the realm of mystifying. But those quibbles aside, Peled-Elhanan’s book is the definitive account of just how Israeli schoolchildren are brainwashed by the state and society into hatred and contempt of Palestinians and Arabs, immediately before the time they are due to enter the army as young conscripts.
*Asa Winstanley is a journalist from London who has lived and work in occupied Palestine. His website is: www.winstanleys.org.
Where The 1% Send Their Kids to College
by STAFF WRITERS
The 1%. They’re the people on everyone’s lips these days, but if you were to pass one of their ilk on the street, you’d probably never know it. Despite what you may think of them, they don’t walk around with a cane and top hat looking for Grey Poupon. They’re 1.4 million regular folks who just happen to make more than $343,927 a year in adjusted gross income. The vast majority of them who have kids send them to college to ensure they get the best job they can, just like the rest of us.
Of course, the difference is that their range of options for college is practically limitless. The median household income in America is about $51,000, meaning $50,000 in tuition is not going to happen (without significant or full financial aid). But the 1% can afford the finest education for their kids that money can buy, and while these kids can end up anywhere from community colleges to Cornell, certain schools consistently attract the children of the wealthiest Americans. (Because schools don’t publish the incomes of students’ families, we’ve primarily had to go by children of people we know are millionaires: celebrities.)
The Ivy League
Yes, it comes as a surprise to absolutely no one that the rich send their kids to Ivy League schools. Probably parents that do so realize that the quality of the education will be extremely similar to that offered at colleges half the cost, but for connections made and the earning ability that comes with the degree’s prestige, see it as a sound investment. While all the Ivies enjoy high ratios of rich kids, a few consistently attract the heirs of millionaires and even billionaires.
Brown is like a giant exhibition hall of celebrity DNA. Dozens of wealthy luminaries who probably land in the top 1% of the 1% have had children come through its doors: Nicholson, Spielberg, Willis, Harrison, Versace, Forbes. Susan Sarandon’s daughter Eva attended, as did two of Diana Ross’ daughters. Politicians Jimmy Carter and billionaire John Kerry both had daughters attend. Brown has also been rated one of the richest colleges in America on the basis of the number of students awarded federal Pell Grants, an indicator of financial need. Just 10.9% received them in 2008-2009.
Gov. Jon Huntsman’s net worth is estimated to be as much as $71 million, and he had two daughters attend his alma mater University of Pennsylvania. Billionaire Donald Trump also graduated from Penn and found it good enough to send two of his kids there. Millionaire comedians Joan Rivers and Ray Romano have sent their offspring to Penn, as has Denzel Washington, with his son. This year it will cost about $57,000 to attend the school. Financial assistance is need-blind, but you have to wonder if seeing the name “Trump” on an application for financial aid wouldn’t earn it a “denied” stamp.
No doubt many famous, wealthy children pick Yale as their school because it’s where their parents went. Barbara Bush followed in the footsteps of both her father George W. and his father George H. W. by becoming a 2004 grad. Vanessa Kerry joined her father John Kerry as a Yale alum. From the Hollywood brand of millionaires, billionaire Steven Spielberg’s adopted son Theo recently graduated from Yale alongside Denzel Washington’s daughter Katia Elizabeth. As for Pell Grant recipients, Yale came in even lower than Brown at 8.9% receiving the loans.
We have the statistical evidence that Columbia University is a 1% stomping ground. Its now-$59,000 cost of attendance puts it out of the reach of most, but in 2010-2011, nearly 35% of freshmen did not apply for financial aid. For physical evidence, we know that multi-millionaire John McCain sent his daughter there, as did Al Gore and Neil Bush, brother of George and son of George. Even John Lennon’s kid did a stint there before dropping out. But anecdotally, we have Columbia’s rep for being a bunch of spoiled rich kids, based on this hilarious Craigslist ad and pretty much common knowledge.
- George Washington University:
At an attendance cost rapidly approaching $60,000, but only 65% of freshmen applying for financial aid (in 2010), George Washington obviously has some affluent students. It has long maintained a reputation as one of the most expensive schools in the nation, and unfortunately, one of the worst values for the money. However, the one-percenters who send their kids here seem to have no qualms with dropping a hundred grand here or there, judging by the cars GWU students drive. Unsurprisingly, four of the top five richest counties in America are in the D.C. area.
- New York University:
Another notoriously expensive school, NYU appeals to the children of the super-rich largely because some of the country’s richest people, their parents, already live in the Big Apple or nearby on the East Coast. George Soros, the 12th-richest man in the United States, has sent two kids to this school. Wealthy Oval Office occupants John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton also had children attend here. Its 14.8% rate of Pell recipients in 2008 made it the 33rd-richest school that year. Over 31% of freshmen requested no financial aid from the school in 2009, a year the school earned itself a major black eye for calling financially needy kids to warn them about the high price tag of enrolling.
- Washington University:
The rock-bottom 5.7% rate of Pell recipients at Washington University in 2008-2009 earned it the title of richest school in America, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Cost of attendance stands at $60,000+ today, but of the 64.4% of freshmen who applied for financial aid in 2010, only 60% were found by the school to have a financial need. In 2009, the school’s Students for Undergraduate Socioeconomic Diversity conducted a survey of undergrads and found that more than 6% claimed their parents’ earned at least $500,000 a year, and another 13.8% said the figure was between $200,000 and $500,000. Although the survey was not super-scientific, it seems clear that Wash. U. kids come from money.
Many Duke University grads have gone on to become well-known, well-paid professionals, but not many send their kids there. Recently, NBA coach Doc Rivers’ son played ball there. Bruce Springsteen’s daughter attended, and a Canadian Prime Minister’s kid went to Duke. But the campus seems to be stocked with un-famous, run-of-the-mill one percent kids. A 2006 survey of students reported an average family income for white students of just under $230,000 during their senior years of high school. With a rate of about half the student body being white, we can safely assume there were a significant number of students who reported 1%-level incomes. In the Chronicle‘s richest university report five years later, they had Duke at number five based on its 8.3% Pell Grant recipient rate.
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.
OWS rally to support the Quebec student strike.
About 150 + people gathered in Washington Square Park NYC to march through the city’s streets banging on pots and pans.
There was a phalanx of police accompanying the rally with the warning to walk on the sidewalks.
This event occurs every Wednesday evening.
Photos and above text © by Bud Korotzer
by Ayman Qwaider
Firstly, humanity and human rights should be our prime concern as peace makers and peace caretakers. I was helped by people I have never met in my life when i was stuck in Gaza and was being prevented by Israel to go to Spain to complete my masters. My newfound friends, who were different in colour, religion, nationality and language, assisted me without any pre-existing conditions. They initiated a media campaign to pressure public opinion so that Israel would allow me to leave Gaza, simply because we share the most important aspect of what can bring all peoples together and that is humanity.
When I asked them why they helped me, someone that they had never before met, they replied that they believed that what was happening to me was unjust and that they were in a position to help me and so they did what they felt was natural and right. It is important to stress here is that humanity and a belief in universal justice can transcend all nations and all tribes. At this point, I would like to bring to your attention an important verse from Sura al-Hujurat of the Quran which highlights this point:
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).
Secondly, we should never overlook or undermine our power as people to make significant changes in the world today. When I was stuck in Gaza and was struggling to leave Gaza for nearly two months, we did not give up. We created peaceful and powerful tools and strategies to put pressure on the Israeli state where we knew it would be most effective: public opinion. We were determined that our efforts would succeed, and that is first and foremost because we believed that we would succeed from the very beginning.
So, first and foremost the strategy was to affect the sphere of public opinion and second, we needed to find the proper tools and access points to achieve this goal. Through our access to social media networks and local Catalan media and through another Spanish media contact in Jerusalem, we managed to reach the Spanish mainstream media that reported my story in the major Spanish media outlets, and it spread like a wildfire! The major social media tools that we used included Facebook, Online Petitions and Twitter, however it wouldn’t have been successful had we not taken the effort to reach a more broad audience through traditional media outlets. However we likely would not have been successful in reaching the mass media without firstly instigating the social media campaign.
Thirdly, we learned to never be afraid to demand your basic human rights because it is yours and no power on earth should deny you these rights. These are not simply the rights outlined in the UN Charter or the Geneva Conventions, but God given rights, irrespective of any international organization or piece of paper that they are written on.
Fourthly, all human rights violations should be documented because it is the only way to raise awareness of these plights to a wider audience. It is important that we stand beyond all deprived and vulnerable people. There are so many people on earth whom their voice is voiceless or they do not have the means to bring their voices to the attention of the world. Thus, it is our duty to help give them a louder voice.
And finally, in situations of injustice, never wait for others to assist you. We should always take the lead to change realities of unfairness and injustice. We should always utilize all possible means available to us in order to remove or contribute to removing injustice. Others will be convinced later and take the initiative and complete the path.
Posted originally AT
Education Minister: Hebron school trips should have started a long time ago
Likud’s Gideon Sa’ar rebuffs protest letter by 260 teachers who refuse to participate in trips to the West Bank town, saying missive is part of anti-government campaign aided by Haaretz.
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar rebuffed a teachers’ protest concerning planned school trips to Hebron, telling Israel Radio on Monday that the only issue with such excursions is that they haven’t been taking place in the last forty years.
Sa’ar comments came after, on Sunday, and for the first time in Israel’s history, more than 200 teachers signed a letter declaring that they would refuse to participate in an Education Ministry program to take pupils on “heritage tours” in Hebron.
“In February 2011, you announced a new tour program called Ascending to Hebron,” some 260 teachers wrote yesterday to Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar.
“Introducing the program to schools is a manipulative use of pupils and teachers, who will be forced to become political pawns. Since we’re dedicated to education, our conscience prevents us from becoming agents of such a policy,” the letter said.
On Monday, Sa’ar rejected any criticism of the planed trips, saying that “it’s to the discredit of the education system that this hasn’t happened in the last 40 years.”
“I didn’t receive any protest letter, their letter was sent to Haaretz to serve their campaign against us,” Sa’ar alleged, saying: “One teacher charged me of Zionist indoctrination. You see? Being Zionist is now an accusation.”
The education minister also referred to last week’s cancellation of a planned Hebron school tour lead by Jerusalem-based NGO called Breaking the Silence, a group of ex-soldiers who relay what they deem to be the daily reality of IDF presence in the West Bank.
“There’s no need to balance out Shelach teachers [from the Education Ministry’s heritage program] with an organization like Breaking the Silence which aided the Goldstone report,” Sa’ar added, referring to the UN mission to investigate the Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza led by former South African justice Richrad Goldstone.
The controversial “heritage tours” curriculum has until now been geared only toward students in the Jerusalem school district; but last week, Sa’ar announced that it would be available to students across the country.
So far some 2,000 secular and 1,000 religious high school students have visited the the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Beit Hadassah. So far, the program has not been made compulsory but the teachers fear that is the next step.
Students from a Jerusalem high school were prohibited by security forces yesterday from touring Hebron with a group of former Israel Defense Forces soldiers.
The planned tour, organized by a, was scheduled to provide students with testimony from IDF soldiers and veterans who have served in the West Bank. However, security forces reportedly informed Breaking the Silence officials yesterday that its members would not be allowed to accompany the students on their visit to the West Bank city.
In their protest letter, the teachers opposed Sa’ar’s plan to spend millions of shekels – the amount was undisclosed by the Education Ministry – to fund the tours.
“You claim that the purpose of these tours isn’t political,” the letter reads.
“But in your visit to Shiloh you announced their aim openly: ‘It’s good to come to the settlements. Its good that the settlements flourish. One should not allow the Arabs to harbor the illusion that one day there won’t be Jews here. Jews will always live here and any other illusion is an obstacle to peace.’ That is the reason we’re called to visit the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Shiloh. By using the national education system, you wish to strengthen and perpetuate the Jewish settlements in these areas. To this end, the reality in Hebron is presented in a partial and tendentious manner. Concealing the political reality is a political action.”
“I don’t want my children to be taken on apartheid roads, with a jeep in front and a jeep behind, and for them to feel that this is totally normal,” he said, referring to a military escort.
USAid, which funds development projects in Palestinian areas, is reported to have helped to build 114km of Israeli-proposed roads, despite a pledge from Washington six years ago that it would not assist in implementing what has been widely described by human rights groups and the Israeli media as Israel’s “apartheid road” plan.
To date the agency has paid for the construction of nearly a quarter of the segregated road network put forward by Israel in 2004, said the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem (ARIJ).
The roads are designed to provide alternative routes to connect Palestinian communities, often by upgrading circuitious dirt tracks or by building tunnels under existing routes.
USAID funded ‘Jews only’ settler road near the West Bank town of Beit Jala south of Bethlehem.
Petition signed by 500 parents as of Tuesday night, was started after Education Minister announced school trips would visit archaeological site of Shiloh in the West Bank.
Hundreds of parents have signed a petition over the past two days refusing to allow their children to attend school field trips over the Green Line.
The petition, signed by 500 parents as of Tuesday night, was started after Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced recently that school trips would now visit the archaeological site of Shiloh in the northern West Bank. Some months ago, Sa’ar made the controversial decision that school children would be taken to visit the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
“Your political agenda is clear to us and it should be said in your favor that you do not bother to hide it. But your political positions are different and in fact in opposition to ours and therefore we cannot allow our sons and daughters to take a trip to Hebron, Shiloh or the rest of the sites and settlement beyond the agreed-on borders of Israel,” the petition states.
The petition was signed “Concerned Mothers and Fathers throughout the country.”
The petition also called on Sa’ar, as “education minister of all Israelis” to “direct school trips to areas that our children can visit. If you do not, our children will be excluded from an important social and educational experience.”
Jerusalemite Tamar Verta started the petition. “If we don’t inform the school administration that they must plan trips within the Green Line, we will find our children visiting Yitzhar and Havat Ma’on,” she said, referring to two Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
One parent, Ehud Inbar of Modi’in, said he did not oppose trips to Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs, “but only after a Palestinian state has been established with which we have a peace treaty. Then the children can visit there the way people visit Egypt or Jordan. I oppose holding trips like this under the current situation where there are citizens ‘grade b or c’ there.”
Inbar also said he would consider changing his mind about the visit to Hebron, “if the Palestinians were at least allowed to present their side. But these trips are not innocent. They are intended to strengthen students’ relationship to places that, to me at least, it’s clear won’t remain under Israeli control.”
Rafi Getenyo, a father of two from Rishon Letzion, said he saw two problems with the trips.
“The first is security and the second is moral,” he said. “I don’t think a face of normalcy should be given to the occupation, and that is after all the intent of the organizers of these trips.”
Getenyo said he thought the children were being cynically used for political purposes.
“I don’t want my children to be taken on apartheid roads, with a jeep in front and a jeep behind, and for them to feel that this is totally normal,” he said, referring to a military escort.
Getenyo said his children understood his position, but did not always agree. He said when other parents allow their children to go “with their eyes shut to institutional reasons, that places a bulldozer of pressure on me. They feel different and they don’t like it,” he said.
Police officers in Portland, Ore., pushed people away from a park encampment on Sunday. The protesters were later driven out.
By MALIA WOLLAN and ELIZABETH A. HARRIS*
BERKELEY, Calif. — Goodbye, city park, hello, college green.
Students on Sproul Plaza at the University of California, Berkeley, on Thursday, a day after an encampment there was broken up.
As city officials around the country move to disband Occupy Wall Street encampments amid growing concerns over health and public safety, protesters have begun to erect more tents on college campuses.
“We are trying to get mass numbers of students out,” said Natalia Abrams, 31, a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, and an organizer with Occupy Colleges, a national group coordinating college-based protesters.
Though only a handful of colleges have encampments, tents went up last week at Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., and here at the University of California, Berkeley. Additionally, protesters in California have vowed to occupy dozens of other campuses in the coming days.
Last Wednesday at Berkeley, about 3,000 people gathered on Sproul Plaza to protest tuition increases, and many then set up a camp. Demonstrators linked arms to protect their tents, but police officers broke through and took down more than a dozen tents, arresting about 40 protesters.
University officials said they had watched city governments struggle to deal with expanding campsites and decided to take a stricter line: no tents, no sleeping, period.
“The present struggles with entrenched encampments in Oakland, San Francisco and New York City led us to conclude that we must uphold our policy,” the university chancellor, Robert J. Birgeneau, said in a statement.
“Our experience with these encampments is that they are never temporary,” said Claire Holmes, a university spokeswoman. “We’ve had a long-term encampment at People’s Park for 43 years.”
Over the weekend, local governments across the country moved to keep Occupy protesters from establishing that sort of tenure.
In Salt Lake City, permits that allowed people associated with the movement to camp in a downtown park, Pioneer Park, were revoked on Friday after a man was found dead. Demonstrators were given about 24 hours to clear out, according to Lt. Scott White of the Salt Lake City Police Department, before the officers moved in on Saturday night to remove those who remained. The police said that 19 people had been arrested.
The same night, protesters in Denver were forced out of their encampment, the second park they have had to leave since demonstrations began. Seventeen people were arrested, the police said.
A police crackdown at Kiener Plaza in St. Louis ended with 27 arrests on Friday night, the local police said, and The Associated Press reported that 24 people were arrested in Albany on Saturday for remaining in a state-owned park past an 11 p.m. curfew.
But protesters in Oakland, Calif., managed to outlast a threat of eviction on Saturday, defying the city’s second demand in two days that they clear out. Those calls began after a man was shot near the protest area on Thursday. On Sunday, demonstrators received a third notice from the city demanding they stop camping in city parks.
The mood in Oakland has been tense and angry since Scott Olsen, 24, an Iraq war veteran, was critically injured at a protest in October. Friends confirmed Sunday that Mr. Olsen was released from the hospital last week. Dottie Guy of Iraq Veterans Against the War told The A.P. that he can now read and write, but that he still has trouble talking.
Demonstrators in Portland, Ore., staved off eviction on Saturday with the help of hundreds of supporters who poured into two city parks near each other, Lownsdale Square and Chapman Square, and a nearby street as a midnight eviction deadline passed. About 60 people on bicycles circled the area, while drumming, dancing and juggling lent a festive air.
On Sunday, however, The A.P. reported that the number of protesters there had thinned tremendously, and that police officers in riot gear had moved in to empty the parks, surrounding protesters and shoving some of them with nightsticks. At least one officer said through a loudspeaker that anyone who resisted arrest might be “subject to chemical agents and impact weapons,” The A.P. said.
By midafternoon, the area was cleared of protesters and fenced off, while crews cleaned up debris inside. The Portland Police Department’s spokesman said that more than a dozen had been arrested.
In Berkeley, the history of encampments stretches back to 1969, when student protesters seized a plot of university land now known as People’s Park. In the violent mayhem that followed, the police shot dozens of demonstrators, killing one man.
In the decades since, efforts by the university to develop or alter the park — now used mostly by the homeless — have met with protests.
Despite that combustible history, the zero-tent policy and the campus police’s apparent willingness to enforce it with batons (as they did Wednesday), the Berkeley protesters say camping is an integral part of their strategy.
Over the weekend, members of the protest group Occupy Cal gathered tents and tarps to rebuild their camp. They have called for a general strike and a mass camp-out at all 10 University of California campuses, 23 state university campuses and 112 community college campuses, starting Tuesday.
“Encampment is one of the most powerful forms of peaceful civil disobedience,” said Marco Amaral, 20, a third-year student majoring in political science and political economics who said he was involved in the protests in part because his parents lost their Las Vegas home to foreclosure.
On campuses elsewhere, officials have been more hospitable.
At Duke University in Durham, N.C., Shreyan Sen, 19, a senior physics major, pitched his tent on a university lawn more than two weeks ago. Between classes, Mr. Sen goes to the four-tent bivouac to run teach-ins. So far, campus administrators have been very accommodating, he said.
Campuses offer amenities not available to protesters inhabiting parks, like hot showers, indoor pools and cafeterias. “We have restrooms right here, so that’s not an issue,” Mr. Sen said.
The Harvard encampment, much like the university itself, is highly exclusive. After protesters set up about 30 tents in Harvard Yard last week, university officials closed the gates to the yard, allowing only students with IDs to enter.
“Securing access to the Yard is necessary for the safety of the freshmen and others who live and work there, for the students who will be sleeping outdoors as part of the protest, and for the overall campus,” the university’s provost, Alan M. Garber, said in a statement.
Harvard protesters set up their tent city a week after a student walkout of Economics 10, an undergraduate course taught by N. Gregory Mankiw, a professor and former economic adviser to President George W. Bush.
“We think that Harvard is complicit in propagating the ideology that made the current crisis possible,” said Amanda Haziz-Ginsburg, a camper who is a student at Harvard Divinity School.
Back in Berkeley, Mr. Amaral worried that Occupy Cal would have a hard time rounding up enough tents. “It’s a hard thing to donate your tent knowing the police are going to take it,” he said.
*Malia Wollan reported from Berkeley and Elizabeth A. Harris from New York. Jess Bidgood contributed reporting from Boston, and Lee van der Voo from Portland, Ore.
Photo: Muslim students gather with their attorney at the Central Justice Center on Friday after being found guilty of conspiring to disrupt and then disrupting a speech by the Israeli ambassador at UC Irvine last year. Eight of the 10 students were present for the verdict at the center in Santa Ana. The other two had permission by the court to be out of town. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times
More photos HERE
After more than two days of deliberation, an Orange County jury on Friday found 10 Muslim students guilty of two misdemeanors to conspire and then disrupt a February 2010 speech at UC Irvine last year by the Israeli ambassador to the United States.
There was crying as the verdict was read in Superior Court Judge Peter J. Wilson’s courtroom. The students showed no visible emotion, although they hugged each afterward. Some also stormed out.
In a case that garnered national attention over free-speech rights, the trial centered on conflicting views of who was being censored. Prosecutors argued that Ambassador Michael Oren was “shut down” when his speech was interrupted by students who took turns shouting preplanned phrases in a crowded UC Irvine ballroom.
Six defense attorneys argued that the students, seven from UC Irvine and three from UC Riverside, were only following the norm of other college protests and were being singled out.
A guilty verdict, the defense had said during the trial, could chill student activism and the free exchange of ideas at colleges nationwide.
University administrators disciplined some of the students involved and suspended the campus Muslim Student Union, whose members participated in the protest, for an academic quarter. The group is still on probation.
The case also has drawn the attention of a wide range of groups, including Muslim and Jewish organizations and civil libertarians. The trial began Sept. 7.
Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of UC Irvine’s Law School, has said that although freedom of speech is not an absolute right, university sanctions were enough for the students.
But he also added that he believes criminal sanctions go too far.
Chemerinsky told The Times last week that “it makes no sense” to use such resources. “It’s so minor.”
Charges against one defendant were tentatively dismissed pending completion of 40 hours of community service at a local soup kitchen.
But the other 10 went on trial Sept. 11 before packed, at times noisy, crowds in the courtroom.
This Israeli process of educating children to hate and prejudice is, of course, exactly what the Zionists accuse the Palestinians of doing. It turns out that all this time, while leveling charges of incitement at the Palestinian educational process, they themselves have been practicing the same sort of indoctrination on their own children.
Education and Behavior In Israel and Palestine
Dr. Lawrence Davidson*
Part I – Education as Indoctrination
Over the last ten years there have been periodic outbursts of rage over the alleged anti-Semitic nature of Palestinian textbooks. Most of these episodes have been instigated by an Israeli based organization called the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (AKA the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education). According to one Israeli journalist, Akiva Eldar, the Center does sloppy work. It “routinely feeds the media with excerpts from “Palestinian” textbooks that call for Israel’s annihilation…[without] bothering to point out that the texts quoted in fact come from Egypt and Jordan.” The Center’s conclusions have been corroborated only by other Israeli institutions such as Palestinian Media Watch.
Not surprisingly, almost all independent investigations of the same issue have come up with very different conclusions. Non-Zionist sources such as The Nation magazine, which published a report on Palestinian textbooks in 2001, the George Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, reporting in 2002, the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, reporting in 2004, and the U.S. State Department Report of 2009 all found that Palestinian textbooks did not preach anti-Semitism. Nathan Brown, a professor of Political Science at George Washington University, who did his own study on the subject in 2000, set out the situation this way, Palestinian textbooks now in use, and which replaced older ones published in Egypt and Jordan, do not teach anti-Semitism. However, “they tell history from a Palestinian point of view.” It might very well be this fact that the Zionists cannot abide and purposefully mistake for anti-Semitism.
Here is another not very surprising fact. When it comes to choosing which set of reports to support, which set to take a public stand on, American politicians will almost always go with the Zionist versions. Take then Senator Hilary Clinton who, in 2007, denounced Palestinian textbooks. They “don’t give Palestinian children an education, they give them an indoctrination.” How did she know? Well, Israel’s Palestinian Media Watch told her so, and she did not have the foresight to fact check the assertion before going public. How typical. And, how analytically shallow. While the Palestinian textbooks don’t teach hatred of Jewish Israelis, the reality of daily life under occupation surely does. Those “facts on the ground,”and not the textbooks, supplies the most powerful form of education for Palestinian youth.
Although in 2009 the U.S. State Department found that Palestinian textbooks were not the products of anti-Semites, there will be yet another Department sponsored “comprehensive and independent” study in 2011. This time around the investigation will look at “incitement caused by bias in both Israeli and Palestinian textbooks. When this happens, one can only hope the investigators take a look at the work of the Israeli scholar Nurit Peled-Elhanan. She is a professor of language and education at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and also the daughter of the famous Israeli general turned peace activist, Matti Peled. Peled-Elhanan has recently written a book titled Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology and Propaganda in Education. The book will be published this month (August) in the United Kingdom. The work covers the content of Israeli textbooks over the past five years and concludes that Palestinians are never referred to as such “unless the context is terrorism.” Otherwise, they are referred to as Arabs. And Arabs are collectively presented as “vile and deviant and criminal, people who do not pay taxes, people who live off the state, who don’t want to develop….you never see [in the textbooks] a Palestinian child or doctor or teacher or engineer or modern farmer.” In contrast she finds that Palestinian textbooks, even while telling history from a Palestinian point of view, “distinguish between Zionists and Jews.” They tend to take a stand “against Zionists, not against Jews.”
Peled-Elhanan makes a link between what Israeli children are taught and how they later behave when drafted into the country’s military services. “One question that bothers many people is how do you explain the cruel behavior of Israeli soldiers towards Palestinians, an indifference to human suffering, the inflicting of suffering…I think the major reason for that is education.” Historically, the mistreatment of Palestinians and even their periodic massacre is taught to Israelis as something that is “unfortunate” but ultimately necessary and “good” for the survival of state. On the other hand, this behavior of Israelis toward Palestinians must also have its consequences. In Peled-Elhanan’s opinion, Palestinian terrorist attacks are “the direct consequence of the oppression, slavery, humiliation and the state of siege imposed on the Palestinians.”
This Israeli process of educating children to hate and prejudice is, of course, exactly what the Zionists accuse the Palestinians of doing. It turns out that all this time, while leveling charges of incitement at the Palestinian educational process, they themselves have been practicing the same sort of indoctrination on their own children. This revelation fills Peled-Elhanan with despair–”I only see the path to fascism” for Israel.
Part II – Education and Making Choices
Keeping our theme of education in mind, let us shift attention to the unprecedented protests now going on in Israel. For the last two weeks massive demonstrations have hit all of Israel’s major cities. “Tent cities” have sprung up in some 40 locations. All of these protests are demanding “social justice.” What, in this case, does social justice mean? It means addressing all the legitimate, standard of living problems that beset most of the demonstrators: soaring costs of food and housing, declining social services and the like. All the predictable consequences of unregulated capitalism and neo-liberal governments.
A significant number of Israelis have decided that this lack of social justice has gone far enough. A recent poll shows that 88% of the citizenry supports the protests. However, this is not entirely a good thing. In order to maintain such support, coming as it does from almost all sections of Israeli political life, the protest leaders now endeavor to remain “non-political” and “rooted squarely in the mainstream consensus.” This is, of course, naive. They live in an albeit skewed “democratic” political environment. The government, which is a right-wing affair, is not going to acquiesce to their demands, except to throw them an occasional bone, unless they can command the votes to shape the outcome of elections. Like it or not, that is the way their system works.
There are other problems. Also in order to be “rooted in the mainstream consensus” the protest leaders are staying away from the issue of social justice for the Palestinians. In Israel proper, that means turning their backs on the plight of over 20% of the population. What sort of social justice is that? Well, it is social justice as defined by people educated in the system described by Nurit Peled-Elhanan. That is why the protest leaders can happily solicit the support of Naftali Bennett, the thoroughly despicable leader of the colonial/settler movement, but not any of the leaders of the Arab-Israeli community.
By not taking a social justice for all stand the protest movement leaders have registered their acceptance of the “justice for Jews only” system to which they were educated. This in itself is a political act which will make them vulnerable to being picked apart with pseudo solutions that offer some of them a little while denying others a lot. Already, as reported by Haaretz, “dozens of Mks [members of the Knesset]’ have petitioned Prime Minister Netanyahu to “solve the housing crisis by building in the West Bank.” Soon thereafter the government announced approval for “1600 more settler homes” in East Jerusalem, with 2700 more to come later. That is the sort of solution this protest movement will get unless their leaders can overcome their education/indoctrination and go into politics in a way that applies social justice to all citizens.
Part III – Conclusion
In all societies there are two major goals for education: one is vocational and the other is acculturation. So, one important reason for education is to prepare young people for the job market. The other is to educate them to be “good citizens.” What this latter goal means depends on the society one is raised in. In the old Soviet Union becoming a good citizen meant being acculturated to a nationalist brand of communism, as is still the case today in China. In the United States it means becoming a believer in the American version of freedom, both political and economic. And, in Israel, being a good citizen means becoming a believing Zionist.
The objective of acculturation means that education always has, and probably always will have, a strong dose of indoctrination attached to it. That the Zionists should find it shocking that the Palestinians want to use education for their version of indoctrination and acculturation is sheer double standards. And, finally, that the leaders of the on-going protest movement in Israel so pointedly exclude the plight of the Palestinians, is testimony to the success of their own education/indoctrination within the apartheid model.
You see, most of us really are what we are educated to be.
*Dr. Lawrence Davidson is professor of history at West Chester University. He is the author of numerous books, including Islamic Fundamentalism and America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood.
The author is a regular contributor to RamallahOnline.com.More articles can be found on RamallahOnline.com, Logos Journal, and Dr. Davidson also maintains an online blog, you can find it at http://www.tothepointanalyses.com
First they came for the teachers, then they came for the playwrights … I WAS NOT SILENT EVEN THOUGH I WAS NEITHER
The upshot of the Tony Kushner muzzling
Image from Columbia.edu
The decision by the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Board of Trustees to block famous playwright Tony Kushner’s honorary degree at John Jay College is rightly being met with outrage. But there’s also an important upshot to the controversy: the racism that right-wing supporters of Israel deploy against Palestinians is getting an airing, as is the unrelenting attempts by powerful pro-Israel types to shut down debate on Palestine. It’s a tiny airing, but it’s a start.
Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, the far-right supporter of Israel behind the decision to block Kushner’s degree, is being pilloried in the press. For instance, while Jeffrey Goldberg minces words and refuses to call him a racist, he did writethreeblog posts criticizing Wiesenfeld.
The narrative that Wiesenfeld wanted to disseminate–that Kushner is an extremist and an anti-Semite–has backfired, and has turned into a story about Wiesenfeld’s politics and how one powerful supporter of the State of Israel successfully managed to block debate and smear a prominent American artist.
Wiesenfeld’s racism against Palestinians, and the shameful way Kushner was treated, was cataloged in an interview published today by the New York Times’ Jim Dwyer:
Mr. Wiesenfeld is the City University of New York trustee who rose this week at a board meeting to block an honorary degree to the playwright Tony Kushner, declaring him an “extremist” opponent and critic of Israel.
It was a startling development for a board that appeared to be on the verge of rubber-stamping a bundle of honorary degrees proposed by the colleges within the university, including one for Mr. Kushner from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Mr. Kushner was not present, and fragments of his views — which are complicated, passionate, critical — were balled up into a few pellets by Mr. Wiesenfeld, who gave a 900-word speech that was mostly devoted to other figures who he felt were radically hostile to Israel. He quoted about 75 words that he said showed that Mr. Kushner’s thinking was beyond the pale.
The trustees pulled the playwright’s name from the motion and moved on to wholesale rubber-stamping of the remaining honorary degrees.
Was this any way for one of the great public universities of the world to discuss the views of one of the leading dramatists of modern times, author of the epic “Angels in America”?
I tried to ask a question about the damage done by a short, one-sided discussion of vigorously debated aspects of Middle East politics, like the survival of Israel and the rights of the Palestinians, and which side was more callous toward human life, and who was most protective of it.
But Mr. Wiesenfeld interrupted and said the question was offensive because “the comparison sets up a moral equivalence.”
Equivalence between what and what? “Between the Palestinians and Israelis,” he said. “People who worship death for their children are not human.”
Did he mean the Palestinians were not human? “They have developed a culture which is unprecedented in human history,” he said.
A separate New York Times article notes that this was not the first time Zionists attempted to nix an award for Kushner:
In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Mr. Kushner has received 15 honorary degrees. In 2006, some pro-Zionist groups tried to block him from getting an honorary degree at Brandeis University, but the university decided to go ahead with the honor.
In response to the current episode, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, a vehement supporter of Israel, has called on CUNY to fire Wiesenfeld:
Ed Koch call for the City University of New York to terminate its relationship with a trustee who engineered the denial of an honorary degree to Tony Kushner because of the playwright’s criticism of Israel…
Neither Kushner nor anyone else was invited to speak in his defense.
“Mr. Wiesenfeld and the trustees who followed his request should immediately reverse their action and urge Mr. Kushner to forgive them,” Koch wrote. “I consider Mr. Wiesenfeld’s action so outrageous as to be an abuse of power on his part requiring his resignation or removal from the Board of Trustees.”
This was probably not what Wiesenfeld was expecting. CUNY is already backpedaling. Former Mayor Koch is airing his outrage over Wiesenfeld’s actions. The New York Times and Jeffrey Goldberg are calling him out for his repugnant views. Some discussion of the history of these attempts to shut down dissent over Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is being heard. What needs to happen next is an honest discussion about the facts concerning the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
CUNY trustee: Kushner must renounce anti-Israel statements to get honorary degree
Trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld tells Haaretz would vote to reverse decision if playwright Tony Kushner renounces statements claiming Israel engages in ethnic cleansing, denouncing its right to exist; calls Kushner’s statements ‘pure incitement’.
Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a CUNY trustee, told Haaretz that if playwright Tony Kushner was willing to come before the board of trustees and renounce his statements accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing and denouncing it existence, he would be willing to vote to award the playwright as with an honorary degree as planned.
Kushner, a Pulitzer Prize winner, has condemned Israel’s policies against Palestinians, accusing Israel of engaging in ethnic cleansing. The playwright was also quoted saying that it would be better if Israel did not exist.
Wiesenfeld said that in the 12 years that he has been a member of the board of trustees, 450 candidates have been given honorary degrees, 30 of whom have expressed opposition to Israel’s policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians.
However, the trustee clarified, none of these candidates ever so blatantly expressed anti-Israel statements in such an offensive way as to accuse Israel of ethnic cleansing, comparing it to Bosnia and Darfur. Wiesenfeld said this was pure incitement against Israel.
Left-wing Israel advocacy group J Street condemned the board of trustees’ decision in a statement Friday, saying it was an infringement upon Kushner’s right to free speech, calling it a “political witch-hunt”.
An Interview with Kristofer Petersen-Overton
Another Professor Fired for Views on Middle East
By JOSHUA SPERBER
Brooklyn College fired PhD student Kristofer Petersen-Overton yesterday, one day after New York state assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) sent a letter to BC president Karen Gould accusing Petersen-Overton of being an “overt supporter of terrorism.” Hikind has complained in interviews that Petersen-Overton’s academic work is anti-Israel, and that his attempt to “understand” suicide bombing is unfathomable. Petersen-Overton and I are colleagues at the CUNY Graduate Center.
JS: You were preparing to instruct a course on the Middle East and were fired. What happened?
KPO: I was hired by Mark Ungar at Brooklyn College’s political science department on the recommendation of Dov Waxman at the Graduate Center. I went in for an interview, and he was impressed with my credentials. I have an MA and I’ve published on the situation [in the Middle East], and he said “I would be honored to have you.” And this was for a grad level seminar, which is not lecture-based, meaning that our classes would be discussion-oriented and not some sort of alleged platform.
JS: What was the official explanation for your firing, and why doesn’t it make sense?
KPO: I have not once been contacted by the department itself, but I was told that the official reason I have been fired is that I don’t have a PhD, which is untrue, because no student teaching this course has a PhD, and there are of course many student teachers at BC who do not have their PhD’s. And I’ll point out that I am somewhat more qualified than many student teachers because I came into the program with a Master’s degree, which many students who are teaching for CUNY don’t have.
I was fired immediately after Dov Hikind contacted the school. He is an especially radical assemblyman who goes after people who he perceives as being anti-Israel. He’s actually made a career out of targeting people for alleged anti-Israel bias.
JS: And the charge of bias is doubly problematic. Because, one, it’s inaccurate. But, two, even if it were accurate, what does it imply?
KPO: We all come to the table with our personal political views; there’s not a single professor who doesn’t have their own views. So it all comes down to how one approaches those views, and I devoted an entire class in the syllabus to the subject of objectivity and humanism, meaning I wanted to put this issue of bias on the table to facilitate open and productive discussions.
JS: What does your firing suggest about contemporary politics and higher education?
KPO: They’ve targeted professors up for tenure for so long and have been relatively unsuccessful except for several cases, like with Norman Finkelstein (JS: and, among others, Nicholas De Genova and Thaddeus Russell, at Columbia University and Barnard College, respectively), now I think they’re going after graduate students before their careers even begin. One of the most direct implications of this which is deeply troubling is not the fact that people take issue with one particular class, which is inevitable, but the way in which the college administration caved so quickly – for it to occur within 24 hours is incredible to me, and the school never even consulted me. For this to be decided by a state official poking his nose in a college syllabus is Orwellian. I’ve received tremendous support, which I’m very grateful for. Norman Finkelstein wrote me, and after I contacted Neve Gordon he (Gordon) contacted BC’s provost, writing that he reviewed my syllabus and that it was excellent and reflected a number of different perspectives, noting that the textbook was mainstream and “emphasizes the Zionist narrative.” He also read a scholarly paper I had written, and wrote that he was “struck by (my) academic rigor.”
JS: What can people do to lend support?
I would be greatly appreciative if people can send an email to the provost, even better a letter, and tomorrow it would be great if people could call, and more importantly if people could disseminate this story. It’s especially disgusting that they would go after a grad student, because they have not only impacted my career but also my income and health insurance.
Office of the Provost (William A. Tramontano)
2900 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11210
Also see This related post from Muzzle Watch
Captain, USN (ret)
Showdown over Israel and academic freedom
An adjunct political science professor was fired Wednesday by Brooklyn College following complaints by a student and a local politician about his pro-Palestinian political views.
The college maintains the instructor, graduate student Kristofer Petersen-Overton, was let go because he did not have proper credentials to teach a master’s level course on Middle East politics. But there’s evidence that other graduate students with the same level of experience as Petersen-Overton have had no trouble teaching advanced courses in the department both in the past and the present.
And now a group of Brooklyn College professors are blasting the administration for undermining academic freedom.
Here is what happened:
Petersen-Overton, a political science student at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York, was looking for a course to teach in the spring, and he heard about an opening at Brooklyn College, which is part of the CUNY [City University of New York] system. Petersen-Overton had a B.A. in political science from San Diego State and a masters in development from a university in Denmark. He has published several articles about Israel and the Palestinians in academic journals and books. He also previously worked at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, a Gaza NGO, in 2007-08. He started his studies at CUNY in 2009.
He got the part-time adjunct professor’s job at Brooklyn College to teach Middle East politics, a master’s level course that is regularly offered in the political science department. That was in late December. The acting chair of the department, who had hired him, asked Petersen-Overton to send him a syllabus to circulate to prospective students.
That’s when the trouble began.
One student, whose identity is not known, did not like the books in the syllabus. The student complained to the department and also contacted a blogger and Brooklyn College alum, Bruce Kesler. He attacked Petersen-Overton in a Jan. 19. post titled “Gaza Defender Hired To Teach Middle East At Brooklyn College.” Kesler criticized Petersen-Overton for being “preoccupied with the Palestinian narrative,” for describing Zionism as a “philosophy of separation,” and for having published articles on the website Electronic Intifada.
Around that same time, a student (likely the same student) contacted the provost and complained about Petersen-Overton. All the details of the communication between the student and the provost are not clear, but, according to Brooklyn College spokesman Jeremy Thompson, the original complaint was about “the credentials of the instructor, not about his politics.” Thompson adds: “What motivated that student? I don’t know.”
Meanwhile, State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, whose district includes Brooklyn College and who actively supports Jewish settlements in the West Bank, got wind of Petersen-Overton’s appointment from the unidentified student. This past Monday, Hikind fired off a letter to the president of Brooklyn College calling Petersen-Overton an “overt supporter of terrorism” and arguing that “Mr. Petersen-Overton’s personal biases should not be allowed to pollute the academic realm.” Hikind specifically pointed to a paper by Petersen-Overton, “Inventing the Martyr: Martyrdom as Palestinian National Signifier.” In fact, Petersen-Overton has quite clearly condemned suicide bombings as “heinous acts.”
It was also on Monday that Petersen-Overton signed a contract with Brooklyn College to formally accept the adjunct position. On Tuesday, he got a call from a local Jewish newspaper to ask for comment on Hikind’s charges. On Wednesday, the chair of the political science department called Petersen-Overton and informed him that his contract had been terminated, even though he had not even begun to teach the class.
The reason, according to Brooklyn College? “Mr. Petersen-Overton was not sufficientlycredentialled to teach at this level,” says Thompson, the spokseman, noting that he does not have his PhD. “The course is an advanced [master’s level] course and he is only three semesters into his doctoral studies.”
Thompson also notes that the provost had been looking into the matter since several days before Hikind’s letter. The assemblyman’s complaint had nothing to do with the decision, Thompson says.
But here’s where Brooklyn College’s explanation does not hold up well to scrutiny. According to a professor of political science and another graduate student, there are plenty of other adjunct professors teaching advanced courses who have the same credentials as Petersen-Overton.
Patricia Stapleton is a CUNY political science doctoral student who has herself taught several master’s level courses at Brooklyn College in the past few years.
“I would say that half the political science master’s courses being taught per semester are being taught by grad students who do not have PhDs, and some don’t have master’s degrees,” she says. “I have repeatedly taught master’s courses without having a master’s degree.”
Stapleton adds: “The argument they’re making is just patently untrue. They do hire adjuncts who do not have PhDs to teach master’s courses all the time.”
Asked about other graduate student adjuncts who had the same credentials as Petersen-Overton but were not fired, Thompson responded: “If that is indeed the case, under the leadership of this president and this provost, it is not going tolerated in the future.” He declined to say whether the provost will actively seek out other such cases.
Mark Ungar is the political science professor who, when he was acting department chair last month, hired Petersen-Overton. He says in an email that “many adjuncts have not yet attained their degrees. If they have not, we weigh their other credentials as well.” Petersen-Overton’s on-the-ground human rights work in the Middle East was taken into account when he was hired.
Ungar and eleven other members of the department objected to the Provost William Tramontano’s decision to fire Petersen-Overton. “His decision to reject our appointment undermines academic freedom and departmental governance,” Ungar says.
CUNY students, meanwhile, have begun circulating a petition “to defend academic freedom.”
Petersen-Overton, for his part, is now unemployed. “It was fear of controversy,” he says. “The administration looked at this and thought, ‘Why should we stick our neck out for a graduate student?'”
Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
CUNY Provost Intervenes To Cancel Appointment of Controversial Brooklyn College Professor: Grave Implications For Academic Freedom
Kristofer Petersen-Overton, a political science doctoral student at the CUNY Graduate Center, has been fired from his position as an adjunct professor at Brooklyn College one week before his course on Middle East politics was slated to begin.
The case was taken up by the Brooklyn College administration after a student enrolled in his course raised concerns that Mr. Petersen-Overton’s alleged pro-Palestinian bias would prevent him from conducting a balanced seminar. The student expressed these concerns with the political science department but agreed not to pursue further action until after the course actually began. However, this student contacted state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who then characterized Mr. Petersen-Overton as “pro-suicide bomber” in a letter to the college President.
In a response sent to Hamodia newspaper on Wednesday, Mr. Petersen-Overton expressed concerns “that a state official would denounce my work so strongly without, apparently, having offered it more than a cursory reading. [Hikind’s] press release … is slander pure and simple.” Mr. Petersen-Overton emphasized that his work has little to do with suicide bombers and that Mr. Hikind deliberately twisted his conclusions to make it appear otherwise.
“I was not contacted by Brooklyn College administration at any time during their decision-making process. This politically motivated action undermines CUNY’s longstanding legacy as a stalwart defender of academic freedom,” Mr. Petersen-Overton said.
The allegations against Mr. Petersen-Overton center on time he spent in the Gaza Strip working for the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and on an unpublished scholarly paper that analyzes the symbolic place of martyrdom in Palestinian nationalism. Petersen-Overton’s detractors also took issue with the fact that, according to his personal website, he still maintains “close contact” with the Palestinian activist community.
Mr. Petersen-Overton’s academic work deals broadly with issues of identity formation in Israel and Palestine.
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Kristofer Petersen-Overton, Brooklyn College prof, says he was fired for pro-Palestinian politics
A Brooklyn College professor says he got canned because of pressure from a local pol angry over the teacher’s pro-Palestinian politics.
“[He] simply did not have the credentials to be teaching at the graduate level,” said spokesman Jeremy Thompson.
But the adjunct prof says he thinks he was fired because Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) complained to City University of New York Chancellor Matthew Goldstein about the course reading list .
“It’s pretty clear that this was politically motivated,” said Petersen-Overton. “I don’t blame the pro-Israel crowd. I blame the administration for caving in to the pressure.”
The dismissal came one day after Hikind fumed to Goldstein about the syllabus – which he said included many anti-Israel books – and Petersen-Overton’s internship in 2007 with the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. “This guy was literally radical and one-sided,” said Hikind. “Whatever your point of view is, if you’re a teacher you’re supposed to present both sides.”
and from the New York Post…..
Brooklyn College yesterday fired an adjunct professor teaching a class on Middle East politics just hours after a state assemblyman accused him of supporting Palestinian suicide bombers.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) faxed a letter to the college president, Dr. Karen Gould, on Monday expressing his reservations about Kristofer Petersen-Overton.
Hikind said yesterday that Petersen-Overton, 26, has written several academic papers that are anti-Israeli and attempt to understand suicide bombers.
Hikind told The Post that after he was alerted by students, he reviewed the proposed curriculum and saw about 50 books listed — all of which blamed Israel for problems in the region.
Petersen-Overton, a doctoral student at CUNY’s Graduate Center, said Hikind’s accusations were “slander, pure and simple.”
The Jewish newspaper Hamodia this week quoted Petersen-Overton on suicide bombers, saying , “I certainly do not condone such heinous acts.”
Jeremy Thompson, a spokesman for Brooklyn College, said that Petersen-Overton was bumped from the classroom because he was not “sufficiently qualified,” since he is “very early on in his doctoral studies.”
Thompson said that Hikind’s accusations had no bearing on the decision and that Petersen-Overton should never been have hired in the first place.
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University is closed today due to heavy snow…. so best to email
An indication of Mr. Petersen’s more supposedly serious work is the chapter Petersen recently co-wrote, Retooling Peace Philosophy: A Critical Look at Israel’s Separation Strategy in the book Peace Philosophy in Action. It is a polemic masquerading as scholarship. Petersen’s co-authors, Johannes Schmidt and Jacques Hirsh, are Danish academics. Hirsh is avidly anti-Zionist, writing in the Marxist periodical Monthly Review: “As the focus on the Holocaust evolved, it came to be seen as related to the transformation of the struggle for a secure Israel into one of an expanding and conquering state.” Schmidt is active in the international “peace” movement.
Petersen’s chapter presents Israel’s Zionism as a “philosophy of separation” and “ethnic separation” creating an apartheid state and so treating Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. “This chapter argues that the philosophy of separation is a logical extension of Zionism’s exclusionary ideological history and that its implementation in the Gaza Strip has not reduced the level of violence against Israeli civilians.” The chapter goes on this “has led some to draw comparisons with South African apartheid, a parallel that has become increasingly justified…”
Now, many within Israel forecast and most now see that Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from occupation of Gaza would allow the most violent among Gazans to take control, as Hamas did, and imperil Israel, as homemade rockets and the Iranian arming of Hamas has done. But, Petersen’s chapter treats the cause of Gazan violence against Israel as if it is Israel’s fault, somehow a consequence of ensuing Gazan poverty: “…Israel’s general security situation has actually worsened, roughly commensurate with the plummeting humanitarian conditions in Gaza.” There’s no exploration of the murders by Hamas of its Palestinian political foes, its authoritarian control of Gazan society, pocketing or use on arms of hundreds of millions of dollars a year of international humanitarian aid from the West, other Arab states avoidance of support for Hamas, or Hamas dedication from its inception to eradicate Israel.
Peace is a concept alien to the zionist ‘mind’, a threat to their very existence, therefore someone like Kristofer Petersen is a threat to them as was a Norman Finkelstein before him. Hopefully Brooklyn College won’t follow the example of DePaul University or be influenced by anything a Dershowitz might have to add to this particular situation.
I have personally known Kris for a number of years through his solidarity work in Gaza and the West Bank. His first hand knowledge of the situation here makes him the perfect candidate to teach in the Department he is connected with. His thoughts are there for all to see on his HomePage. He hides nothing about himself or his activities. He is the type of friend that one can be proud of having. He is the type of teacher that a student can actually learn something from.
The report from Campus Watch can be seen HERE.
It is they that should be watched, not those that teach the truth.