My email to the Chancellor of the University of Illinois, Phyllis Wise, objecting to the firing of Professor Steven Salaita and demanding his reinstatement is below. You can send one too.
I am shocked and dismayed that you would end the employment of the honourable Associate Professor of American Indian Studies, Steven Salaita, due to pressure from those who place the indefensible – the genocidal actions of settler colonial Israel toward Palestinians whom it occupies, oppresses and sieges in Gaza – before academic freedom and ethical educative values.
Would you have treated Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King similarly for their strenuous public advocacy for attainment of rights for the rightsless because racists objected to their appointments? It is not uncivil nor bigoted to challenge racism.
Should academics be gagged from expressing political analyses and opinions in public so that the tender sensibilities of racists, white supremacists and nationalists are not offended? Surely one of the roles of education is to civilise people through learning to shed their prejudices and ignorance. Further, no state or political ideology should be quarantined from critique. To punish people for critiquing the Israeli regime or any other state undermines the foundations of democracy.
What message are you sending to other academics who oppose injustice and oppression? Why side with and encourage today’s McCarthyite bullies and their witchhunt of dissenters?
Please act judiciously in the spirit of civilised values, academic freedom and democracy – restore your reputation by re-employing Steven Salaita.
I would be more worthy
if I am a wage earner
if I am male
if I am white
if I am not dis-abled
if I am least colonised
if I am from the mother country
if I am young and not too young
if I am seductively skinny
if I am gender normative
silent alliance and complicit silence
secret scythes to reproduce
and feed the dream
that steals from
all of us.
Jinjirrie, July 2013
How we love Amerikkka, land of bugs and drones,
Where obscenely rich old men perch upon their thrones,
Spying on the world to keep their loot secure,
Destruction is their legacy, they will not endure.
The US gave us Hollywood to keep us occupied,
Sharing in the dream, we’d sleep, complicit in the lies.
Jinjirrie, July 2013
settler heart identified
To paraphrase a dead French guy badly, the surveillance state has to change people/populations into the kind of group that basically remains silent. That is what is needed first in order to make the unthinkable possible and finally, normal.
This is why, when they come for some of us, they actually come for all of us.
I smell the fear on your vinyl briefcase
as across the table like Captain Cook
you pity the poor natives.
Your backdoor agenda and verbal pyrotechnology’s
a front for the urgency to move onto lunch,
the bottom line, where you will be free
of the irritation of our disagreement.
Snake on a ladder, you have all the answers
before the questions are put, and if I resist
and say ‘what about this?’ I’ll be hived off.
You want your lunch and I have a hunch
you’ll have your way no matter what I say,
top down, bottoms up.
I’m not here for a handout, just some of our taxes back.
You have your priorities sent down the line
(I’ll scratch your back if you stab mine),
keeping the upper hand for the mortgage’s sake,
your PS perks and old boy lurks building
a superstructure of barbies and kids on Sunday
with the Director and the man on the next rung,
top down, bottoms up,
drinking and laughing about idealists
who’d like to step over your head.
I wonder if you hear us at all,
while unseen in the community
quiet synergy turns the wheels eventually,
Following the sessions in Barcelona (which focused on EU complicity), London (on Corporate Complicity) and Cape Town (on the crime of Apartheid), the New York Tribunal will go back to the root of the conflict and focus on UN and US responsibility in the denial of the Palestinian right to self-determination.
Alice Walker, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others tell you why you should support this historical initiative to bring Israel to account for its brutal crimes against the Palestinian people under the aegis of international law.
‘The Tribunal finds that Israel subjects the Palestinian people to an institutionalised regime of domination amounting to apartheid as defined under international law. This discriminatory regime manifests in varying intensity and forms against different categories of Palestinians depending on their location. The Palestinians living under colonial military rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territory are subject to a particularly aggravated form of apartheid. Palestinian citizens of Israel, while entitled to vote, are not part of the Jewish nation as defined by Israeli law and are therefore excluded from the benefits of Jewish nationality and subject to systematic discrimination across the broad spectrum of recognised human rights. Irrespective of such differences, the Tribunal concludes that Israel’s rule over the Palestinian people, wherever they reside, collectively amounts to a single integrated regime of apartheid.’
“If our demands, these rights, threaten the existence of Israel, what does that say about Israel?”
“The hysteria about this conference tells us soemthing about the moment we are in, we are in the endgame.”
“Israelis don’t have a right to superiority.”
“We’re here for the dozens of children born at military checkpoints because Israelis have not allowed ambulances through.”
“We are here in solidarity with the prisoners, including nearly 200 Palestinian children.”
“It’s the occupation forces who should be standing trial, not the children.”
“We stand together against all forms of bigotry: against racism, against Islamophobia, against anti-Semitism; we are one against sexism, against homophobia, against discrimination due to physical ability; we affirm and embrace the rights, dignity and equality of all human beings; and all are welcome here tonight.”
“Palestinians are told: ‘you must be nonviolent’. Why don’t we hear that said to Israel?”
“End the military occupation, end all forms of discriminationa against Palestinians in Israel, recognise Palestinians’ right of return. None of these goals contradict the rights of Israelis.”
“We are the 99%, we have to link this struggle to so many other struggles, here and round the world.”
“We have an abuse of the Civil Rights act, insteading of opening the campus, it’s designed to silence discussion.”
“The BDS movement grew out of the realisation that the US and UN were not upholding their responsibilities.
They don’t because of the power realities. We have to do it ourselves. We’d like to reach a state where states acted responsibly. US resisted sanctions against SAfrica to the very end – it’s often citizens’ movements that push governments to act responsibly from the bottom up, not the top down.
The amazing thing about the movemetn is that it is led by Palestinians, the BNC, but the implementation is done by local initiatives and creativity all over the world. The question is where do you think it will go over the next 5 yrs – I look forward to your creativity. We have to do that work as part of the broader solidarity movement … It’s true Palestine has been a taboo even on the left in this country for a very long time.
Palestine was always pushed to the side, but this is changing. The shift is that Palestine is part of a much larger global struggle.”
‘The JDO is a self-described “militant” organisation, though others have labelled it a “terrorist group”. It is a splinter group from the more infamous Jewish Defence League (JDL), and like the JDL subscribes to the extremist Zionist ideology of Kahanism, and boasts of physically attacking pro-Palestinian activists in the US.’
‘All Israeli wars since 1973 were flawed wars of choice. Israel initiated all of them. None of them was inevitable, none resulted in any benefit that could not have been achieved using different means. In fact all of them were disastrous for us, even if the disaster was even greater for the other side. The most megalomaniac of them all, the Second Lebanon War, was also the most disastrous of them all. This bears remembering when debating the even greater megalomania of an attack on Iran. ‘
Growing up as a Jewish anti-apartheid activist in South Africa, I was often told by white racists to “go back to Israel”. The idea that Jews don’t belong among non-Jews is the traditional language of anti-Semitism – and also of the modern ideology of Zionism that emerged in the late 19th century. Zionism’s founder, Theodore Herzl, believed that anti-Semitism of the sort I encountered was inevitable and even “natural” whenever Jews lived among gentiles. He effectively concurred with the anti-Semites’ remedy: that I should “go back to Israel”.
Apartheid, by the way, denied black people the rights of citizenship on the basis that their “national homelands” were in Bantustans such as Transkei and Kwazulu – bogus “states” in which they supposedly would exercise their right to self-determination.
Jews have certainly suffered for the right to live in security and safety, but the majority have chosen to exercise that right not in a separate Jewish nation state, but instead as Americans, Argentines, British or French. When Mr Netanyahu proclaims himself not just the prime minister of Israel, but also the “leader of the Jewish people”, that’s an expression of an ideology that holds that we’re a separate nation. I don’t believe that the majority of diaspora Jews are comfortable with the idea that they’re not really Americans or other nationalities, but are instead part of a separate people whose “national home” is Israel. While their grandparents’ experience may have been one of Jewish persecution and impermanence, most young Jews in the West today are not assuming that their gentile neighbours are going to turn on them.
If the current distribution of the world’s Jewish population changes in the coming decades, Israel’s share is more likely to shrink than to grow. The Israeli government revealed in 2003 that some 750,000 Israeli Jews were living abroad. Israel’s former prime minister Ehud Olmert addressed French Jews a couple of years later and implored them to send their children “home” to Israel. Ironically, his sons were living in Paris and New York at that time.
By insisting that the Palestinians declare Israel “the national home of the Jewish people”, Mr Netanyahu is, in effect, asking Mahmoud Abbas to recognise a claim against which more than half of the world’s Jews have voted with their feet.
‘Charging these “Me Firsters” with principled loyalty to Israel drastically overestimates them. The record suggests that they are, as a rule, in it squarely for themselves. This confusion is significant, for example because a more realistic appreciation of the interests driving the Israel lobby and its sympathisers would draw attention to the ways in which support for Israeli militarism benefits and speaks to elite interests in the US, rather than just in Israel.’ (I’d go further about how US militarism benefits and speaks to elite interests in Israel 🙂