Socialism Art Nature

On Thursday, May 1, 2014, we, the teachers and school staff, at the International High School at Prospect Heights are refusing to give the NYC English Language Arts Performance Assessment Exam.  We are standing in solidarity with the more than 50% of our parents who have opted their students out of taking the test.

Please support the teachers and staff members who have joined together to abstain from administering a test we believe is harmful to English Language Learners(ELLS).  We are not willing to sacrifice the trust of our students, their feelings of self worth, and our professional duty to do what is best for them. In good conscience, as educators dedicated to the learning of our students and the welfare of our school communities, we are not administering this test. We ask that Chancellor Carmen Fariña remove the New York ELA Performance Exam in favor of an assessment created by educators who best know the individual needs of their students and classrooms.




In case you’re wondering what might have happened had the NBA not given Donald Sterling the maximum punishment:
The Warriors were going to go through pre-game warm-ups and take part in the national anthem and starting line-up introductions. They were going to take the floor for the jump ball, dapping up the Clippers players as is customary before games… Then once the ball was in the air, they were just going to walk off. All 15 of them.
Also, NBAPA VP Roger Mason said there were plans in place for the other games too. Bulls, Wizards, Grizzlies and Thunder were all prepared not to play. David Aldridge specifically reported that Kevin Durant and John Wall “and other team leaders” were on board with the plan.



BDS protesters march to build the movement

THE MOVEMENT calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to pressure Israel to grant basic rights to Palestinians has suddenly moved from the margins to center stage.

Scarcely a year ago, knowledge that a BDS movement even existed was mostly confined to people who have spent years engaged in solidarity campaigns that were largely shrugged off by the mainstream media and the Israeli political establishment. When activism did take place, it was often in reaction to Israel’s repeated military assaults and acts of repression.

But as 2013 drew to a close, the controversy swirling around a lucrative marketing deal between SodaStream, which produces a home carbonation machine in an illegal West Bank settlement, and Hollywood superstar and Oxfam ambassador Scarlett Johansson captured some headlines for the movement.

Then the American Studies Association (ASA) voted to honor the Palestinian call for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. The ensuing backlash against the ASA, including denunciations by high-profile university presidents and an ill-conceived attempt to punish the ASA, proposed and then abandoned by the New York state legislature (and now revised and reintroduced), gave the BDS campaign its highest profile yet and uncorked a fierce debate about academic freedom and Palestine.

There was more to come: Secretary of State John Kerry warned his Israeli counterparts that they needed to get serious about “peace” negotiations or risk facing a growing global boycott movement. On January 31, the New York Times ran an opinion article by Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement and one of its ablest spokespeople, breaking the Times' longstanding embargo against significant articles by BDS proponents.

In February, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with three of his top cabinet ministers, including ultranationalist Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, to discuss strategies for containing the boycott threat. Pointedly, however, Netanyahu didn’t invite two ministers—Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid—who have echoed Kerry’s remarks.

In the U.S., a schism is likewise emerging between Israel’s most reactionary defenders, such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, and a more confident network of liberal Zionists who are sounding the alarm about the refusal of Israel’s hardliners to make even token concessions that are fully within Israeli interests.

The arrival of BDS as a factor in the geostrategic calculations of American and Israeli policymakers is, in itself, a major accomplishment for this young movement. The call from Palestinian civil society for a global BDS campaign was issued in 2005, less than 10 years ago.

Everyone involved—from pro-Israel political leaders to the activists of the BDS movement—know full well the impact of the last solidarity campaign against an apartheid system. The divestment movement against South Africa’s racist regime began in earnest in the 1970s and played an important part in galvanizing international sentiment and undermining the legitimacy of white rule. The fall of South African apartheid was a long time in coming, but it did fall.

Today, the BDS movement is poised to become the anti-apartheid movement of a new generation, capable of inspiring people around the world to speak out for justice for a historically dispossessed people—and in so doing, learn how to better speak out for themselves….


The historic vote by the American Studies Association in December to honor the Palestinian call for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel has helped to bring discussion of Israeli apartheid into the mainstream of political debate in the U.S. for the first time in decades.

Furthermore, the ASA’s bold action has inspired allies of the Palestinian struggle to stand with them in the face of the predictable backlash from defenders of Israeli apartheid. Here, we reprint a statement by Jews for Palestinian Right of Return in solidarity with the ASA boycott resolution.

Activists bring the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement into the streets

Jews for Palestinian Right of Return endorse ASA boycott of Israeli academic institutions

WE SALUTE the American Studies Association’s courageous endorsement of the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israeli academic institutions, which are leading accomplices in more than six decades of ethnic cleansing, colonization, war crimes and apartheid.

As Jews, we refuse to remain silent as a so-called “Jewish state,” armed by the U.S. and its allies, commits these injustices with impunity in our name.

Contrary to baseless charges of “anti-Semitism,” BDS resembles the boycotts that “singled out” similarly racist regimes in Jim Crow United States and apartheid South Africa.

Applying the same standards to apartheid Israel, BDS demands nothing more—nor less—than freedom and justice throughout all of historic Palestine, by calling for:

— An end to Israeli military occupation of the 1967 territories

— Full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel

— Right of return for Palestinian refugees, as affirmed by UN resolution 194

We call on Jews of conscience everywhere to honor our own proud heritage of resistance to oppression and injustice by standing with the Palestinian people, BDS, the ASA and the growing international movement in support of these fundamental human rights.

Partial list of initial signers

(List in formation; affiliations listed for identification only. Add your name here.)

  • Avigail Abarbanel, psychotherapist, activist, writer; Inverness, Scotland
  • Gabriel Ash, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network; Switzerland
  • Prof. Jonathan Beller, Humanities and Media Studies; Director, Graduate Program in Media Studies, Pratt Institute; Brooklyn
  • Prof. Steve Brier, historian; New York
  • Eitan Bronstein Aparicio; Tel Aviv
  • Nora Barrows-Friedman, journalist; Oakland
  • Max Blumenthal, journalist and author of Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel
  • Daniel Boyarin, Professor of Talmudic Culture, UC Berkeley
  • Lenni Brenner, author of Zionism in the Age of the Dictators
  • Estee Chandler, Community Organizer; Los Angeles
  • Mike Cushman, Convener, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (UK)
  • Eron Davidson, award-winning filmmaker, Roadmap to Apartheid
  • Warren Davis, labor and political activist; Philadelphia, Penn.
  • Hedy Epstein, Nazi Holocaust survivor and human rights activist; St. Louis, Mo.
  • Samuel Farber, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Brooklyn College, CUNY
  • Joel Finkel, Jewish Voices for Peace; Chicago
  • Prof. Cynthia Franklin, Co-Editor, Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, University of Hawai’i
  • Lee Gargaliano, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network; USA
  • Dr. Terri Ginsberg, film and media scholar; New York
  • Sherna Berger Gluck, emerita faculty, California State University, Long Beach; founding member, US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel; Israel Divestment Campaign
  • Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence; Berkeley, Calif.
  • Hector Grad, Prof. of Social Anthropology, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid
  • Ira Grupper, former National Co-Chair, New Jewish Agenda (1989-1993)
  • Jeff Halper, Director, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
  • Stanley Heller, Host, “The Struggle” Video News, TSVN
  • Shir Hever, Jewish Voice for Just Peace; Germany
  • Tikva Honig-Parnass, former member of the Zionist armed forces (1948); author of False Prophets of Peace: Liberal Zionism and the Struggle for Palestine
  • Adam Horowitz, Co-Editor, Mondoweiss
  • Selma James, Global Women’s Strike; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network-UK
  • Jake Javanshir, Independent Jewish Voices; Toronto
  • Emily Katz Kishawi, Jewish Anti Zionist Network; San Francisco
  • Sara Kershnar, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network-International
  • David Klein, Organizing Committee, US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
  • Toby Kramer, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network-US
  • David Letwin, activist and teacher, Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
  • Michael Letwin, Former president, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325; Organizing Committee, US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel; Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
  • Dr. Les Levidow, Open University; UK
  • Brooke Lober, PhD candidate, Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Arizona
  • Antony Loewenstein, Australian journalist and author
  • Jennifer Loewenstein, Faculty Associate, Middle East Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Samantha Liapes, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
  • Barbara Lubin, Executive Director, Middle East Children’s Alliance; Oakland, Calif.
  • Prof. David Makofsky, Research Anthropologist; People’s Republic of China
  • Mike Marqusee, author of If I Am Not for Myself: Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew
  • Thomas Mayer, Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Linda Milazzo, writer, activist, educator; Los Angeles
  • Michael Novick, Anti-Racist Action-Los Angeles/People Against Racist Terror (ARA-LA/PART)
  • Prof. Bertell Ollman, Dept. of Politics, New York University
  • Prof. Ilan Pappé, Israeli historian and socialist activist
  • Miko Peled, writer, activist, author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine
  • Prof. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, Sakharov Prize laureate; Jerusalem
  • Karen Pomer, granddaughter of Henri B. van Leeuwen, Dutch anti-Zionist leader and Bergen-Belsen survivor
  • Roland Rance, Jews Against Zionism, London
  • Michael Ratner, President Emeritus, Center for Constitutional Rights (for ID purposes only); New York
  • Ruben Rosenberg Colorni, Journalist, The News Junkie Post, Activist—Youth for Palestine; The Hague
  • Lillian Rosengarten, activist for Palestinian liberation and a bi-national Israel/Palestinian State; New York
  • Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead, London School of Economics
  • Ilana Rossoff, community organizer; New Jersey
  • Cheryl Rubenberg, retired associate professor of Middle East politics at Florida International University; Miami, Fla.
  • Josh Ruebner, Author of Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace
  • Margot Salom, Just Peace for Palestine; Brisbane
  • Yom Shamash, Independent Jewish Voices; Vancouver
  • Tali Shapiro, Boycott from Within; Israel
  • Sid Shniad, Independent Jewish Voices; Vancouver
  • Jonatan Stanczak, Managing Director, The Freedom Theatre
  • Marsha Steinberg, BDS-LA for Justice in Palestine
  • Prof. Miriam Swenson, educational psychology
  • Steve Terry, criminal defense attorney; Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Sam Weinstein, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network-Labor
  • Abraham Weizfeld, Administrative Secretary, Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians
  • Marcy Winograd, former congressional candidate, Los Angeles
  • Bekah Wolf, UC Hastings College of Law Student; Co-founder, Palestine Solidarity Project
  • Sherry Wolf, Associate Editor, International Socialist Review
  • Dr. Roger van Zwanenberg, Non-Executive Director, Pluto Books Ltd.; London



Professor Stephen Hawking

Professor Stephen Hawking


Ali Abunimah: Boycotting Israel as a stance for justice is going mainstream —€“ Israelis can no longer pretend theirs is in an enlightened country

 … When we look back in a few years, Hawking’s decision to respect BDS may be seen as a turning point – the moment when boycotting Israel as a stance for justice went mainstream.

What is clear today is that his action has forced Israelis – and the rest of the world – to understand that the status quo has a price. Israel cannot continue to pretend that it is a country of culture, technology and enlightenment while millions of Palestinians live invisibly under the brutal rule of bullets, bulldozers and armed settlers.

The situation [in Israel] is like that of South Africa before 1990 and cannot continue.
Certified scientific genius Stephen Hawking on the apartheid conditions in Israel today (2009, Al-Jazeera)

It’s the busiest shopping season of the year, and we know Walmart will try to cover this up. We can’t let that happen. ###
 BREAKING: WALMART WAREHOUSE WORKERS ANNOUNCE SECOND STRIKE You can support Walmart warehouse workers fighting retaliation for speaking out. Take the Cyber Monday pledge today. Together, we will send a powerful message to the world’s largest retailers — workers Get the facts. Take the pledge. Spread the word. ### Check out Warehouse Workers United facebook page for more info on the strike. Also check out these great organizations supporting Walmart workers:Making ChangeUnited Food and Commercial Workers International UnionNational Guestworker AllianceOrganization United for RespectRespect DCWarehouse Workers For Justice

It’s the busiest shopping season of the year, and we know Walmart will try to cover this up. We can’t let that happen.



You can support Walmart warehouse workers fighting retaliation for speaking out. Take the Cyber Monday pledge today. Together, we will send a powerful message to the world’s largest retailers — workers matter.
Get the facts. Take the pledge. Spread the word.


Check out Warehouse Workers United facebook page for more info on the strike.

Also check out these great organizations supporting Walmart workers:
Making Change
United Food and Commercial Workers International Union
National Guestworker Alliance
Organization United for Respect
Respect DC
Warehouse Workers For Justice

Support Walmart workers’ strike and protest on Black Friday. Boycott Walmart!

Support Walmart workers’ strike and protest on Black Friday. Boycott Walmart!

For a national boycott of the 2012 elections! Or, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

I would rather not vote at all than vote for something that I don’t want. Obama — and the 1% that ultimately back both his Party and the GOP — need to be sent a message from working people that he can’t just ride roughshod over us as he chases the dollars of Wall Street. If he wins the election with a lot of support, he won’t get any message at all. He’ll think he’s doing fine.

I want him to win by the skin of his teeth, if at all. I want him to sweat thinking he’s going to lose the election because he screwed over the most vulnerable Americans and continued many of the exact same bellicose, oppressive, and punishing policies of the Bush administration.

Hell — I think in 2012, we’d all send a much more powerful message to the political elite if we engaged in a massive boycott, rather than if we just pinch our noses and vote for the “lesser-evil.” That way, whoever wins, American “democracy” would be exposed as a sham.

The most important factor in determining the course of history in the near future is not the 2012 elections, but the fate of the Occupy movement, and any mass struggles that emerge as a result of the changed political landscape it has created.


Photo at left: Obama and Rick Perry, Governor of Texas and Republican candidate for President.


Today’s news not only brings us this study by Middle East expert, Stephen Zunes, documenting the brazen extent to which Israel continues to act as the world’s most rogue of outlaw nations (see below), but also the following outrage:

Apparently, the Israeli government yesterday enacted a new law that would put the most anti-democratic of Middle East dictators to shame. 

It is now a crime for any Israeli citizen to even vocalize support for the boycott of Israeli goods or state institutions, including those within the illegal (as defined by the UN) Israeli settlements in the ‘occupied territories.’

So, as the New York Times reports, this action, which occurred last year, would now be considered criminal activity:

Last year, Israeli theater artists refused to perform at a new cultural center in the urban settlement of Ariel and in other West Bank settlements, causing a public uproar. They were followed by scores of leftist Israeli academics, writers and intellectuals who said that they would not lecture at the center or in any of the settlements.

Imagine if something like this happened in the U.S. (which is unfortunately not too hard to imagine in these post-PATRIOT Act days).  All of the Americans who have been calling for a boycott of Arizona, in the wake of that state’s passage of the anti-immigrant SB-1070 law, would now be considered criminals engaging in unlawful activity!

Increasingly, when Israeli advocates claim that it is the only “democracy” in the Middle East, I feel like Inigo Montoya from that incomparable film, The Princess Bride: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means”


Israel holds the record for ignoring United Nations Security Council resolutions, according to a study by San Francisco University political science professor Steven Zunes.

He systematically went through all the states given instructions by the security council to find out how common a phenomenon it was. His results were somewhat surprising: “Some of the countries are considered and are known to be friendly to the U.S.,” he told Ha’aretz yesterday. “In the vast majority of cases I examined, the governments violating UN Security Council resolutions are countries that receive significant military, diplomatic and financial aid from the U.S.”

Israel leads the list. Since 1968, Israel has violated 32 resolutions that included condemnation or criticism of the governments’ policies and actions.