Andover High School
as Published in Andover Townsman Janyuary 18, 2007
Wheels speaker responds to 'dangerous language'
By Mazin Qumsiyeh
Wheels of Justice
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) engaged in defamatory and dangerous language in challenging the right of teachers who invited us to Andover. Briefly:
1) Needlessly describing those you disagree with as "anti-Semitic" cheapens and mocks the memory of all those who suffered because of their religion. We presented eyewitness accounts and non-violent resistance to occupations in Iraq and Palestine. Some of our eyewitness speakers are Jewish and even Holocaust survivors (80-year-old Hedy Epstein).
2) We are also not "anti-Israel" since we believe in the rights of all people and believe human rights results in a win-win situation to all. Many Jews and Israelis take stronger positions than us (e.g. see books by Giladi, Shahak, Pappe, Halper, Mezvinsky). Israeli artists declared that: "If the state of Israel aspires to perceive itself as a democracy, it should abandon once and for all, any legal and ideological foundation of religious, ethnic, and demographic discrimination. The state of Israel should strive to become the state of all its citizens. We call for the annulment of all laws that make Israel an apartheid state, including the Jewish law of return in its present form."
3) The ADL collected information on Arab- and African-Americans active in the movement against apartheid South Africa, and settled a case out of court (agreeing to pay an undisclosed amount).
Congressman Paul Findley's book They Dare to Speak Out provides a good introduction to these and other methods of silencing debate. The attacks on President Jimmy Carter for his latest book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, like the unfair vocal attacks by a minority on Andover teachers who invited us, are symptomatic.
4) There is the mistaken notion that political Zionism serves Jewish interests or represents Jews (this is challenged by Jewish historians like Lenni Brenner and Norman Finkelstein).
5) We have spent more than $400 billion of our taxes to occupy Iraq for control of oil and other Zionist plans to reshape the Middle East, and more than $1 trillion to support the Israeli government (highest recipient of aid, getting more than Africa as a continent). In the last four years, we lost 650,000 Iraqis, 3,000 Americans, several thousand Palestinians and Lebanese, and several hundred Israelis. It is a serious subject deserving of serious debate based on facts (rather than hurling insults). Our speakers (including me) are willing to engage in civil public dialogues.
The school principal said at the public meeting: "If we can't make peace here, how do we expect them to make peace there?" Our Web site contains more information on what we really stand for such as our position on violence.
Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh is a Christian Palestinian American and coordinator for the Wheels of Justice bus tour.
Zionism Keeps Israelis and Palestinians Apart
Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh
Originally appeared in the Eagle Tribune January 16, 2006
In hundreds of presentations we did at Middle Schools, high schools, colleges, universities, and elsewhere, this was only the second time we were "disinvited." We want to thank the teachers who invited us and the hundreds of students who worked diligently to make sure they hear us. The events went very well at the classes and we received countless positive emails from students, teachers, parents, and community members.
The Wheels of Justice brings eyewitness accounts to occupations in Iraq and Palestine. Our speakers come from various political backgrounds; the only requirement is that they support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and support nonviolence as an alternative to war and injustice. We also recognize that to achieve peace anywhere in the world, the root causes of injustice, racism, and oppression must be addressed. We also have speakers who are Jewish and even Holocaust survivors (e.g. 80 year-old Hedy Epstein).
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) led the effort to describe us and teachers who invited us as "anti-Israel" or even "anti-Semitic." In 1980, the ADL covertly distributed a 21-page booklet containing "background information on pro-Arab sympathizers active on college campuses." Later the ADL was fined and signed a statement pledging not to engage in spying and collecting information after federal investigators found that ADL had paid investigative police officers to gather information on Arab Americans and African Americans active in the movement against apartheid South Africa (see http://www.counterpunch.org/adlspying2.html).
But the ADL is not the only well-funded groups attempting to recruit Jews to support dubious agendas by attacking anyone who dares to speak out. For an understanding of these attempts to silence free speech on this issue in Congress, in the media, and at college campuses, people should read Congressman Paul Findley's book "They Dare to Speak Out."
We have significant history and experience working with Israeli Jews and other Jews collaboratively on peace projects. Yet, a vocal minority insists that if you do not support Zionism as a segregationist ideology, you are automatically "anti-Semitic" (or if Jewish "self-hating Jew"). This defamation is not only false, but is also dangerous. (I prefer the more accurate term "anti-Jewish" rather than "anti-Semitic" because many Jews are not Semites (e.g. European Ashkenazi Jews or Ethiopian Jews) and most Semites are not Jews - for example, Palestinians. But the term, initially coined by a racist German anti-Jew, is now so common so I use it here.)
Zionism is a colonial political movement with adherents among people of various religions, including Christian Zionists. Judaism on the other hand is one of the three great monotheistic religions. Most Jews are anti-Zionist, non-Zionist, or post-Zionist (as are most Christians and Muslims). Using the term anti-Semitic is wrong but also dangerous, because it cheapens and mocks the memory of all those who suffered truly because of their religion. It is also instructive to read books like those by Jews such as Norman Finkelstein (whose parents are survivors of Nazi atrocities), Lenni Brenner, Naeim Giladi, Israel Shahak and others about why Zionism is a mirror image of other segregationist ideologies.
So far we spent over $400 billion of our taxes to occupy Iraq for control of oil and other Zionist plans to reshape the Middle East, and over $1 trillion to support the Israeli government (highest recipient of U.S. aid, we gave it more than we gave to Africa as a continent). Yet, one-third of Israeli children live below the poverty line, while Israel is using billions of our tax money to ethnically cleanse and oppress the native Palestinians. Love of Israel becomes meaningless if it does not mean changing life for the better for these Israeli children (and millions of Palestinian children). Only a public outcry would force the U.S. government to change its policies of supporting oppression despite the strong lobbies in Washington. That is why groups like ADL attempt to stifle debate and any exposition of the truth. The attacks on President Jimmy Carter for his latest book on Israeli apartheid, like the attacks on Andover High School, are symptomatic.
Israel is the only country in the world that does not define itself as a country of its citizens (Jews and non-Jewish citizens). It defines itself as a country for and by the Jewish people everywhere. Every Jew in the world is considered as a national of the state whether they want it or not (part of 'Am Yisrael). Any Jew including converts can go there, get automatic citizenship and live on Palestinian lands while Palestinian refugees are not allowed to return simply because they are Christian or Muslim. Further, no other country has supra-national entities that are more influential in shaping policies than its national institutions (e.g. ADL, Jewish National Fund, Jewish Agency and World Zionist Congress).
Israeli artists declared in 2002: "If the state of Israel aspires to perceive itself as a democracy, it should abandon once and for all, any legal and ideological foundation of religious, ethnic and demographic discrimination. The state of Israel should strive to become the state of all its citizens. We call for the annulment of all laws that make Israel an apartheid state, including the Jewish law of return in its present form." That desire to improve one's country represents the ultimate love of country/patriotism, rather than the reflexive parroting of propaganda and blaming the victims of those policies (whether in Andover or Palestine). The same applied to U.S. citizens who spoke for civil rights, to end the war on Vietnam, to end support for apartheid South Africa and more recently to end support for the war on Iraq and on Palestine.
The school principal said to those who tried to disrupt the meeting in Andover: If we can't make peace here, how do we expect them to make peace there? Thus, we again urge those who consider themselves our opponents/enemies to agree to civic public dialogue. Our contact information is available on the Web.
Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh is a Christian Palestinian American and coordinator for the Wheels of Justice bus tour and author of "Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle." His Web site is www.qumsiyeh.org.
Zionists Vs Truth -The Wheels of Justice Battle for Andover
By Joe Carr, 6 January, 2007
From Hasan Fouda
Wheels of Justice prevailed and Zionist attempts as silencing failed in Andover, Massachusetts high school last Friday January 5, 2007.
As some of you know, the wheels of justice spoke at more than 200 high schools nationwide without incident. We were invited by social studies teachers from Andover, Mass high school to speak to their classes and were scheduled to speak on October 27, 2006. However, pressure from local Zionists led the school principal to cancel our appointment. The honorable teachers were indignant, and with the involvement of the local ACLU sued the school for interfering with their professional judgment as educators and for limiting free speech. The school principal and superintendent decided to reschedule our talk to Friday January 5, 2007. They also offered to pay the cost of transportation for our speakers. They hired a lawyer and held several meetings with representatives of ADL and other Zionist groups and to
accomdate them as much as possible decided to.
1. Send a note to every parent to provide an opportunity for their kids to be excused from attending our supposedly subversive presentation, if they so desire. It is remarkable that not a single parent opted to excuse their child from attending.
2. Held school sessions, by outside consultants, one week before our presentation about the constitutional guarantees of free speech. (We were described as a pro Palestinian anti Israeli group!)
3. Assign two “neutral” adult observers from the community to attend every one of our class presentations. No other adults were allowed.
4. Invite two Zionist professors from Harvard University to speak to the students two weeks after our presentation to rebut our information.
5. In another concession, we were also asked to repeat our presentations in the evening in a public event at school so that everyone will know what we told the students (and of course for the Zionists to help plan their rebuttal). We happily agreed to all this.
Despite the above, the Zionists were not satisfied. They continued to complain and engage in a campaign of smearing the teachers and wheels of justice. They also threatened the day before the talk to file for a court injunction to prevent our talks. Much of that was covered by the local media including a front-page feature article the morning of
our presentation. See the links below for media coverage. Note the one sided coverage of all the hoopla; none of the so-called journalists
saw it fit to contact us and ask for our comments. Also, the ADL provided each student with packets of misinformation and talking points to “prepare” the students for our appearance.
All the media coverage and manufactured controversy backfired and helped us raise awareness of what is going here and in Palestine–Israel. The students were quite attentive and engaging. Some read questions and comments from the ADL prepared material, which we were only happy to clarify. Many of the students thanked us sincerely for
the new information and were quite appreciative. I spoke about the Jews, Moslems and Christian people of conscience who are working together in Palestine –Israel and also on ICAHD work opposing house demolition and showed a 4 minutes video on resisting house demolition. The other presenters were noted Palestinian activist and author Mazin Qumsiyeh who introduced the concept of the wheels of Justice effort and provided a general overview of the situation in Israel-Palestine. Also presenting was, Joe Carr a young activist and Musician. Joe was an ISM volunteer who spent a lot of time in Palestine. He was demonstrating with Rachel Corrie when she was mercilessly killed by an Israeli
bulldozer and was also next to Tom Hurndall when he was shot by an Israeli sniper. Tom later died as a result of his injury. Joe Carr
was also in Iraq as a volunteer for the Christian Peace Makers team. Joe’s report on the events in Andover is reproduced at the end. See
also his web site lovinrevolution.org/beta/?q=node/36
From our perspective, the evening public presentation was also a great success. More than 300 people attended including many parents and many others who do not normally attend peace and justice talks. There were also a great many supporters and a large contingent of Zionists. The Zionists wasted more of their time and money. They distributed handouts smearing the teacher’s leader and accusing him of anti-Semitism. They also distributed many papers full of the typical ADL misinformation (Israel a democracy, no apartheid, disputed not occupied, etc.) Inside the presentation they made complete idiots of themselves by heckling, shouting interrupting and then fought among themselves with some aiming to disrupt and others shouting that they needed to know what we presented to the students. Even the principal who strove to accommodate every one had to admonish them for not making a good example for the students and the irony that the students behaved a lot better than the adults. We finished all of our presentations but during the question and answer period the heckling continued and the principal decided to end the program. Many many
people, including some students were so marvelous and so appreciative. Many stayed with the three us of for over an hour to express their gratitude, ask questions and apologize for the behavior of Zionist members of their community. We also received an invitation to speak again at a local church in the area which we are happy to schedule.
The heroes of the story are the high school teachers who stood their ground, were true to their principles and refused to be intimidated. The leadership of teacher Ron Francis, who is also the leader of divestment campaign in Somerville, was really inspiring. Members of the local peace and activist community also came together and lobbied
for peace and justice, for decency and fairness.
It is instructive that all the hysteria was about hiding the truth in Palestine-Israel. No one minded that we also criticized the U.S. government over the conduct of the war on Iraq.
For more information on the Wheels of Justice program go to http://www.justicewheels.org/
Mazin Qumsiyeh on Andover issue
I just wanted to expand on a few issues beyond what Joe covered (although I disagree with Joe's characterizations in many areas including what the principal did and why). We normally have four people: a bus manager, a bus driver, and two speakers. The physical bus could not come back to the school (it was in the Boston/Andover area giving talks in November) and now it is in Arizona. We had three people at this high school:
We gave introduction to the bus and where we have been. The bus speakers are all volunteers and we spoke at hundreds of middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities around the country. The bus supports the universal declaration of human rights and supports non-violence. We believe that to address violence (that kills far more native people than occupiers and colonizers) we must address the root causes of injustice, discrimination and racism. I then spoke of the Israel/Palestine situation by highlighting my own experiences, the destruction and ethnic cleansing of 530 Palestinian villages and towns between 1947-1949) and the subsequent nearly six decades of occupation, ethnic cleansing, and theft of land. The shrinking areas allocated to Palestinians now constitute less than 12% of historic Palestine. Zionists flinched when I showed President Carter's book cover on Israeli apartheid.
Dr. Hassan Fouda then spoke about non-violent resistance and showed many examples of people of various faiths and backgrounds working together for peace (Internationals, Israelis, Palestinians, Jews, Christians, Muslims, etc). Here are just two examples of groups mentioned by Hassan:
Breaking the silence: Israeli soldiers explaining the orders they are given and giving testimonies of the acts they or their comrades committed in the occupied areas (http://breakingthesilence.org.il/index_e.asp)
Bereaved Parents Circles: Israelis and Palestinians who lost relatives and who chose to grieve and work together for peace rather than for vengeance (http://www.theparentscircle.com/)
Israel Committee against Home Demolitions (http://www.icahd.org/eng/)
Hassan explained the long history of home demolitions and that Israelis do this to expand settlement areas on the richest Palestinian lands. He also showed a moving clip of an Israeli Jew (Jeff Halper) pleading with Israeli soldiers in hebrew not to demolish a Palestinian home by telling them that the Israeli laws they are implementing are unjust and should not be obeyed; parallels to the Nuremberg laws in Nazi Germany.
Joe Carr spoke of the atrocities committed in Iraq since the American occupation of 2003 (and before, US led sanctions killed over ˝ million Iraqi Children). An excess Iraqi death toll of 655,000 Iraqis in 3.5 years constitutes genocide. He also spoke of the loss of three of his friends: Tom Fox (a member of Christian Peacemaker team who was killed in Iraq), Rachel Corrie (killed by an Israeli soldier driving a US made and paid-for Caterpillar bulldozer) and Tom Hurndall (shot by an Israeli sniper using a US made/paid for gun while Tom and Joe and others were helping Palestinian children in an area where snipers specifically targeted them).
The students and teachers were extremely interested and asked pertinent and good questions in the four presentations we made. In the evening, we were asked to do a public presentation. The Zionist movement was recruited from even nearby towns and cities (one of them in asking the question did not even know where he was). But there was even more people who are supportive of peace and justice (thanks to Meerimack Valley Peace community and others). The Zionists tried to shout the presentation down. One person stood and told them it would be good for their cause to “hear what we told the students”. This did not make a big difference and halfway into the Q&A session, the principal called the meeting off. People continued to mill around and engage in conversations. Some of the books we had on the wheels of justice table were stolen while people were busy talking to each other.
They tried various (and expected) strategies to intimidate, silence, discredit, shoot the messenger etc. They had the usual few bad cops and a couple of “good cops” to effect the desired change. All has parallels in Zionist history (1.5 million cluster bombs in Lebanese civilian areas this summer to leave a message while Peres talks as the "good cop"). They were getting frustrated and angry that most of their tricks did not work (and if anything backfired), as people do not like to pushed around/bulldozed. Similarly in Iraq, Lebanon and in Palestine, things are not quite working well for the agenda of apartheid and racism. The more aggressive and violent they are, the poorer they perform to achieve their own objectives of control whether in Iraq, Palestine, or Andover. I personally believe this is because of their biggest Achilles’ heel: that they think in racist/tribalistic fashion (us here them there as Rabin put it) and are trying to push other Americans to do the same. To them “the other” cannot be human or humanized (let alone have self-determination) or even engaged with in a civil way. Early Zionist founders said it very clearly in the late 19th century and early 20th century "We want to be feared not loved".
Despite repeated efforts to explain that we are three people with different backgrounds and different political outlooks, they still kept insisting that this is somehow a tribal conflict (we and the teachers who invited us were labeled as “pro-Palestinians” “anti-Israeli”, and even “anti-Semitic”). Despite our talk clearly showing the diversity of groups and people in that part of the world, they ignored all of that and pushed ahead as if the struggle is between Israelis and Palestinians (if it is binary, it is actually between those who support human rights and international law and those who don’t).
Of course I continue to challenge Zionists to public debates (most of them refuse). I am willing to travel for such debates with any leading Zionists (already covered Morton Kline of ZOA, David Harris of AJC, and a few others). Truth after all should be visible and the more light one sheds on things, the more the lies will get exposed. (the religions and non-violent philosophies WE follow teach us to hate the bad deeds but not the misled humans who do the bad deeds). We will continue to speak truth to power without hate or malice to anyone. The Wheels of Justice keeps rolling. Stay tuned.
PS: not one of the students opted-out of our talks (even the children of the the tiny minority of parents who demanded that option).
Here are some of the stories about our appearance. I put these in approximate order of unfairness (slightly unfair progressing to totally outrageous/hogwash):
BTW Isn't it amazing that the Eagle Tribune wrote four articles on this "controversy" denouncing us without ever interviewing one of the people from the Wheels of Justice bus tour??!! Write and call them if you are outraged
Re Andover School Committee decision: http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/02/01/speaker_policy_is_a_touchy_subject/
Middle East forum cut short as hecklers drown out speakers By Crystal Bozek , Eagle-Tribune January 06, 2007 http://www.eagletribune.com/local/local_story_006094545
Superintendent: Wheels of Justice visit is 'reasonable' By Colin Steele , January 05, 2007 http://www.eagletribune.com/siteSearch/apstorysection/local_story_005120446
FOX video is here
Protests, injunction threatened against pro-Palestinian speakers.http://www.eagletribune.com/local/local_story_004094558
And here are Zionist ratings (unrated :-); "Opinion" is too kind a word since most of these folks parrot others in the Zionist/racist camp and cannot come up with their own opinions:
But also there were many good letters to the editor in support of the teachers
here is a more moderate example showinhg how Zionist attacks sometimes backfire by alienating even moderates