May 30, 2008

Anti-Racist Blog Shuts Itself Down

A long overdue update.

Some may remember the late-March posts on this blog, recounting my interactions with an anonymous hate-slinger, whose emails appeared in my inbox over the course of the past year. The messages promised to report me to “the proper authorities” for an alleged love of terrorists (advocating divestment from military companies that aid Israeli colonialism in Palestine).

After some digging, I posted new findings on March 18: the emails came from the Farmington, MI law firm of Kaufman Payton and Chapa, and their author was also the founder of the (now-defunct) website called Anti-Racist Blog, which cross-lists its posts on the notorious Daniel Pipes project called Campus Watch.

Nearly minutes after the post went up, connecting these dots, I received an email from the anonymous messenger, bartering for my silence:

“I request that you remove all references to the law firm from your blog, and refrain from writing such things about the law firm elsewhere in the future. To be fair, if you agree to this request I will remove ALL blog postings related to you and your brother from Anti-Racist Blog, and I will refrain from writing about you both on Anti-Racist Blog in the future.”

And minutes later, another email:

“I will take down the Anti-Racist Blog completely now and forever. I will do all of this as soon as you agree to these terms, and begin by taking down your two most recent blog posts.”

“In essence, I will permanently retire from the area and arena of advocacy. I hope you seriously consider this offer, which I believe is more than fair, and mutually beneficial.”

I never agreed to these terms, failing to see the benefits of keeping quiet about the underlying issues- the vilification of anti-zionist academics as unpatriotic, racist and anti-semitic.

Though I refused to enter into any such pact, the founder of Anti-Racist Blog revealed his name to me after nearly a year of anonymous correspondence and harassment. And a few days later, the Wayne State law grad, and attorney at Kaufman, Payton, and Chapa, shut down his blog anyway. His final blog post on March 22 apologized for “initiating or responding with anger” to opponents, but framed the shutdown of his blog as a result of “threatening emails, phone calls…headaches and harassment” instead of what it was: an attempt to cover his ass.

The blog remains inactive to this day, but some of Schwartz’s blog posts remain archived at Pipes’ “media” outlet. It is refreshing to see this tool for intimidation and harassment voluntarily dismantle. Schwartz’s ARB, and his anonymous emails written on office time are unwelcome not because I happen to disagree with his politics, but precisely because his site offered very little political substance.

The ongoing colonial project in Palestine continues to force an ideology of ethnic and religious hierarchy on irrevocably interconnected (however segregated) communities of people. Because the Zionist project has created such violent and inequitable realities through its basic hostility to difference, its defenders have little more than accusations of anti-Semitism to fend off a growing anti-Zionist movement that sees no sustainable future in Israeli apartheid.

With the Anti-Racist Blog around or not, the forces in this country that want to normalize and defend this discourse remain worthy targets for our heartiest critical energies and commitment.

to be continued…

May 18, 2008

The American Nakba

1860-1869 Native American land "cessions" in black

1870-1879 land cessions
1880-1889 land cessions
Reservations and other Native American communities as of 1987

May 15, 2008

Expressions of Nakba

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation's art exhibit opened this week in DC, showcasing artists of various mediums interpreting the experience of Palestinian exile and displacement that has burned for sixty years.

Detroit artist Invincible's song "People Not Places" won best recorded audio entry; from the chorus:

"my Ima misses people not places
has she seen the towns with names in Arabic the Hebrew replaces?
The policies are evil and racist, deceitful and heinous
You’ll never be a peaceful state with legal displacement"

isten to the song and the other finalists for recorded audio including Dearborn's Big A and ZHAO-SKI.

The Visual Arts exhibit includes photos by San Francisco's Umayyah Cable; this one entitled "Forbidden Jersualem".

May 14, 2008

60 Years

I found the May 14th, 1948 declaration of Israel's first prime minister on the eve of national independence. I didn't expect David Ben Gurion’s words to fit the occasion of Palestine's catastrophe six decades on:

“After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.”

As he spoke these words, the forcible exile of Palestinian refugees, now numbering 4.5 million, commenced. Today, celebrants honor Ben Gurion’s longing for return as it pertains to Israel’s settlement of a biblical homeland, but actively deny the orphan of Palestinian exile, to which Israel gave birth on its day of national “liberation."

Rashid Khalidi argues that this liberation not only destroyed the national aspirations of another people, but that this crime presents a fundamental crisis of Israeli nationalism
, despite all denials:

"The apparent triumph of Zionism stilled doubts and drowned out the protests of those who argued that what purported to be the solution to one problem had created an entirely different one."

Now, and for sixty years, Palestinians have shared Ben Gurion’s “hope for their return” to
their homes, and the “restoration in it of their political freedom.” A dream deferred, but not dissolved.

Photo-op attempts at “peace,” divorce the narrative of Israeli liberation from the experience of Palestinian dispossession. Only when these two "separate" stories are acknowledged as one, can these two “sides” begin to repair a relatively short history of colonial conflict and undertake a new national project based on co-existence in a bi-national democratic state. This would entail a vast Palestinian civil rights movement for equality and fundamental reform in the Jewish state. Whether or not this strategy is undertaken by the splintered Palestinian resistance, Saree Makdisi notes that the Palestinians won't be leaving:

"No people in history has ever gone away just because another people wanted them to, and the sentiments of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull live on among Palestinians to this day."

On the 60th year of the Nakba, resistance means joining and amplifying their voices. To be continued...

May 05, 2008

Another Sneaky Supplemental

On the heels of the ILWU’s May Day work stoppage to protest the war, which closed ports up and down the West coast, there are rumblings of another supplemental bill sneaking its way through the halls of Congress. Jeff Leys from Chicago-based Voices for Creative Nonviolence is on point as usual.

According to Leys:

Details of the supplemental are being closely guarded by the Democratic party leadership. However, the supplemental is based upon President Bush’s request for an additional $108 billion in supplemental funding for the Iraq – Afghanistan war for the current fiscal year (FY 2008, which ends on September 30, 2008). Of this amount, $102 billion will be for the military.

It looks like the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate are working together to give Bush what he wants, and keeping the date of the vote secret to suppress public opposition:

It is quite possible—indeed probable—that the House version will not be publicly available until the morning of the vote. It is also quite possible that the date the vote takes place on Iraq – Afghanistan war spending won’t be known until the night before the vote is scheduled to occur. This means that it will be next to impossible to mobilize significant opposition to the Iraq – Afghanistan war spending bill.

A rush vote is being designed to sidestep debate in committee, and is expected this week.

Read Leys' full analysis of war funding, build on labor's May Day anti-war action, and get on the horn to your representative through the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Find direct contact information for your representative here.