Saturday, September 26, 2009

UC Santa Cruz

This past Thursday students, faculty, and staff at UC Santa Cruz decided that enough was enough. They gathered to protest the budget cuts that have been plaguing the UC system,and what once was considered an affordable education, has become anything but as tuition fees rose to over $10,000 this year. When the banks were facing a crisis-a whole they themselves dug-the government was kind enough to offer them a bailout package. Should we not do the same for students asking for an education. I mean in the greater scheme of things, whats a billion dollars to bring relief to an ailing school system; I for one wouldn't mind.

Below are links to some of the news articles that have popped up, as the media slowly starts to cover the protests:

Students, Faculty, and Workers Rally at UCSC

Thousands Pack Sproul Plaza to Protest UC Layoffs, Fee Increases

University of California campuses erupt into protest

Read more!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Tea Party Protest

I love seeing well informed protesters marching on Washington, D.C. And in case you've been hiding under a rock, apparently the United States is on its way to becoming a third world communist-socialist-fascist wasteland. But seriously folks, lets please get informed first.

These people were being led by a man who is directly benefiting from the tax-supported health care he so vehemently opposes. But I guess with a name like Dick Armey we can't really expect anything less.

Bill Moyers: Tea Party Organizer is Epitome of Privilege

Read more!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Volume 2, Issue 1

The new back-to-school issue of el participante has just been released, with new editors Daniela Garcia and Melquiades Fernandez! Click on "link to PDF" under Volume 2, Issue 1 on the right hand side, and be sure to browse our other issues too.

Read more!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Academic freedom? Not if you mention divesting from Israel.

The response to any criticism of Israel continues to border on hysteria. As featured in The Nation, Neve Gordon, an Israeli professor at Ben-Gurion University, released an Op-Ed in favor of international divestment and soon received "death threats" and demands for his "exile." University President Rivka Carmi told Gordon to "consider another professional and personal home," stating the Op-Ed was an "abuse of the freedom of speech." Apparently, the freedom of speech in Israel only supports positive assessments of the country's relationship with Palestine. Zionists continue to prove that when confronted with a well-reasoned argument for the end of Israel's apartheid policies, the public can expect nothing short of a "firestorm" in retaliation. On Columbia's campus, the taboo of speaking out against Israel is also in full effect. In this atmosphere, it becomes even more important for supporters of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination to refuse to be silenced. Gordon's piece was slandered as "morally reprehensible" but in reality, it is those who continue to back the atrocious human rights violations in Palestine that must be held accountable.

Read more!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Why We Need Singlepayer!

Check out this article on Single-payer. The reality is private health insurance is inefficient. The article covers the various defects of this defunct system and why single-payer is the way to go!

Read more!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Whites Only" in 2009!?

Supposedly segregation is a thing of the past, but unfortunately it is alive and well. In a town outside of Philadelphia, 65 children attending summer camp tried to go swimming at a club. The camp had a contract with this club for the use of their facility, but when the club realized that the majority of these 65 children are Black, they terminated the contract. The club's leader cited change of complexion and atmosphere of the club as the reasons. In other words, the club's pool is "Whites Only." We cannot tolerate this sort of racism.

Please click here for more info and to sign a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder!

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Judith Warner and Male Gender -Policing "Fags"

Judith Warner has an excellent post on the New York Times that should be read in full. 

An excerpt: 

It’s weird, isn’t it, that in an age in which the definition of acceptable girlhood has expanded, so that desirable femininity now encompasses school success and athleticism, the bounds of boyhood have remained so tightly constrained? And so staunchly defended: Boys avail themselves most frequently of epithets like “fag” to “police” one another’s behavior and bring it back to being sufficiently masculine when someone steps out of line, Barbara J. Risman, a sociologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, found while conducting extensive interviews in a southeastern urban middle school in 2003 and 2004. “Boys were showing each other they were tough. They were afraid to do anything that might be called girlie,” she told me this week. “It was just like what I would have found if I had done this research 50 years ago. They were frozen in time.”

Thanks to the women's liberation educational led by Malena, Lucha has been increasingly turning towards gender issues.Thinking about definitions of "manhood" within a declining post-industrial economy, in which the blue-collar middle class and solid "masculine" union jobs are disappearing, the discourse of policing and enforcing an aggressive, narrow masculinity becomes even more important. 

Read more!

Winning CCSC Party Uses Offensive Poster

Take from the BLAAAG:

If you haven't seen it already, there is a flyer circulating Columbia's campus, created and distributed by the Clear Party in lieu of CCSC elections. Read further for an image and some of the e-mails that have been circulating in response to this flyer:

Hey lovely people,

Some of you might have found out about this already, but there's a flyer for the student council campaign of the clear party that reads "Two Asian girls at the same time". Since finding out about it from eagle eye Vivian, I've gotten increasingly irritated.

So far, a few people have contacted this group about the issue of this flyer. I was talking to Sam Stanton, and she thinks it's a ripe time to get CCSC to mandate some type of anti-oppression training for all its members, or as many as possible. Something could be done with the elections board as well. (This comes out of the fact that somehow, someone involved with CCSC didn't get the fact that this flyer was offensive.) Nhu-Y says we should involve the administration, ppl the councils look up to. All things to talk about...

I suggested to Sam that we use the time right before the APAAM meeting on Wednesday to discuss things to do. So, 10pm, Lerner 5th floor? What do people think? Hopefully something worth pulling off before the end of the year?

If you haven't seen it, it's hanging in Hamilton right now between floors 5 and 6 in the west staircase I think.



Hello folks,
I am e-mailing you guys to express my deep concern over a flyer from your party that I saw in Hamilton. I noticed a flyer that said "Two Asian Girls At The Same Time". I understand that you guys must have thought that was funny, but it is really upsetting. Not only is it a play off of a racist fetishization of Asian women that directly corresponds with the effeminization and invisibility of Asian men, as well as American imperialism, but it is also a heterosexist and patriarchal male fantasy that has contributed to the invisibility of Queer women. As a Queer woman of color I find this deeply offensive.
I wanted to e-mail you guys before I took any other actions, so that this issue could be resolved with maturity and expediency. I am asking that you please take down all of those flyers immediately. I also think it would be appropriate to release an apology. Please let me know what you decide to do as soon as possible.
Thank you
Samantha Stanton
Columbia College, Class of 2009

Read more!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

UNC Students Protest Anti-Immigrant Racism

Students at the University of North Carolina have received attention for their protest against Tom Tancredo, anti-immigrant activist, former congressmen, and brief contender for the Republican presidential nomination. 

Lucha, as a student organization to dedicated to defending undocumented workers, and promoting the interests of all working people, stands behind the brave actions of the UNC students. We stood up to Jim Gilchrist, Marvin Stewart and the racist thugs the Minutemen Project brought to Columbia University on October 4, 2006. 

Lucha is currently preparing a formal statement of solidarity, but in the mean time, we wanted to immediately express our solidarity to all those who stand up and expose racism and bigotry attempting to parade as acceptable political and intellectual discourse. 

Read more!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Demonstration Against NYPD Police Tactics at New School

Student Action Defense Committee

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

11:40am - 5:00pm

Lang Courtyard, 66 w.12th st

“We take police brutality sitting down”

Shocked, terrified, or just plain pissed off about the administration’s use of the NYPD during a student protest? Horrified at the wanton acts of police brutality perpetrated on our campus? So speak up! We’re having a sit-in in the Lang courtyard on Wednesday. We’ll have some street theater, some food, maybe some music (anybody have an old-school boombox?). This is about facilitating open discussion among the student body, as well as a demonstration against NYPD presence at student protests. If they kick us out of the courtyard, we move to the streets!

Read more!

MoveOn Health Care Petition

If Congress passes Obama's plan and Americans are given the choice of a public health insurance option similar to Medicare, we could all save up to 30% on our health care premiums.1 That's a huge savings, and we'd still get high-quality coverage and be able to choose our doctors. 

And even if you choose to keep your current insurance, you'd save anyway. You see, HMOs and big insurance companies are the only game in town right now—so they overcharge us to boost profits and pay out CEO bonuses. If Obama's plan passes, they'd have to compete with it, and their prices would have to be more honest. 

Lower premiums for us means lower profits for them, so insurance companies are putting extreme pressure on Congress to drop the public health insurance option. But Americans deserve to have this choice—and it's necessary to help rein in out-of-control health care costs. 

Imagine how different things would be if we all had quality health care that costs up to 30% less than what we're paying now. Would you use the money toward college for a child? A safe retirement? Or maybe you'll finally be able to afford the treatment or medicines you need. 

Can you click the link below to tell Congress how Obama's public health insurance option would change your life? We'll send all the answers to Congress, as part of our campaign to make sure we get real health care reform this year.

The simple truth is that having the choice of a public health insurance option would make all of our lives better. Here's why: 

  • Health care costs are spiraling out of control. From 2000 to 2008, health insurance premiums increased five times faster than wages.2
  • A public health insurance option would provide an affordable, quality alternative. Two new studies show that Americans could save 25% or more off of a traditional private plan.3 The New York Times says this would "keep the private plans honest."4 They'll have to lower rates and offer better value to compete. 
  • Plus, a public health insurance option would be reliable coverage for all. Private insurers are notorious for dumping people with little notice.5 A public option would allow consumers who've been dropped—or just don't like their current coverage—to switch to a steady public choice.  
Thankfully, the public health insurance option is gaining steam in Congress. The 77-member Progressive Caucus recently endorsed the policy.6 And the chairmen of five critical congressional committees came out in support.7 

Now we need to get the rest of Washington on board. Can you help by telling Congress how the choice would help you?

Thanks for all you do.

–Patrick S., Wes, Matt, Tanya and the rest of the team


1."The Path to a High Performance U.S. Health System," The Commonwealth Fund, February 19, 2009

2. "Health Insurance Costs Outpace Wages," WebMD, October 23, 2008

3."The Path to a High Performance U.S. Health System," The Commonwealth Fund, February 19, 2009 

"The Cost and Coverage Impacts of a Public Plan: Alternative Design Options," The Lewin Group, April 6, 2009

4."A Public Plan for Health Insurance?" The New York Times, April 6, 2009

5. "Obama Should Offer Public Health Insurance to All," The Progressive, March 13, 2009 

6. "Progressive Caucus Draws a Line on Health Care," Open Left, April 2, 2009

7. "Democrats Agree on a Health Plan: Now Comes the Hard Part," New York Times, March 31, 2009

Read more!

Plan to Change Student Lending Sets Up a Fight

As large private lenders are being kept afloat by taxpayer money, many see Mr. Obama's proposed expansion to the direct loan program long overdue. Political opposition, however, may be hard to overcome.


Read more!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Negrita Closes

Spec and Bwog have been covering this for some time now, and I've only started going this semester. Lets try for a different take

Two years ago, Joanna Eng at Racialicious wrote

"There is something extremely disheartening about walking into a bar called “La Negrita” to find it full of white people, and white people only. I already cringe when someone brings me to a bar in New York City where I’m the most “ethnic” face in the room; it hits me over the head in a city as diverse as this. But La Negrita is especially bugging me, not only because of its name and lack of explanation for the name; but because we’re on 109th Street and Columbus—Manhattan Valley—a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood where most of the longtime residents are black and Latino (and most of the newcomers are white)."

But its not that simple. La Negrita, like the other bars in the neighborhood (and even the Malcolm X and Donaldson Lounge on campus), are what Ray Oldenburg would call a "third place". According to Oldenburg, third places “host the regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals beyond the realms of home and work.”

Places like Negrita are crucial spaces for a democratic society and civic engagement and--yes, gentrification. I'll be there at some point this weekend, regretful that I never went until now.

(Photo: La Negrita, the patron saint of Costa Rica in Cartago, Costa Rica)

P.S. This is my first post at el participante! Thanks to Rudi for bringing me into the dialogue. Keep that feedback coming.

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Economic Crisis, Anti-Immigrant Violence

As Professor Eric Foner noted at a panel on "Capitalism, Crisis and Politics" last week, during times of economic crisis or transformation, racist ideologies can crystalize and come to the fore, citing the 1890s as a period for the solidifcation of white supremacist ideology in the United States. 

The news of today makes the same argument quite strikingly. 

Correction NOTE: As further details have been released, it appears that the shooter in the case was not someone motivated by anti-immigrant hostility, but an immigrant who had some personal conflict with the Civic Center in Binghamton. Nonetheless, we should still be vigilant to a rising tide of anti-immigrant politics and violence unleashed in this climate of economic crisis. 

Read more!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Rally Next Tuesday!


Tuesday March 31
In Front of the governor NYC office
633 3rd Avenue
(at 40th Street)

Every solution coming out of Albany balances the new budget on the
backs of working and poor people in New York. Yet simply raising
taxes on the richest New Yorkers could close the projected budget gap
completely. All the plans currently under discussion for tax reform
will leave billions of dollars in cuts in place, forcing those of us
at the bottom to fight over who will dodge the ax this time around.
As Washington prepares to dump another $1 trillion into the financial
system, it is time for us to demand the rich ante up! Join CUNY
students, teachers, city workers, and community members to demand:

- Tax the rich to close the budget gap COMPLETELY!
- No budget cuts; EXPAND social services! Housing, education, jobs
and health care are a right!
- NO layoffs!
- FREE tuition for all public higher education!

Read more!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Support the DREAM Act!

It's anticipated that the DREAM Act will be introduced to Congress in the next few days. Support it in whatever way you can!

Sign an online petition!

Email or fax your Representative!

THURSDAY. 3/26 @ 4pm.
* ACTION at Senator Schumer's Office *
4pm at 757 Third Avenue (Btwn 47th & 48th Street)

Read more!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Dream Act 2009

Take a minute to check out this online petition for the Dream Act. The Dream Act would provide a path towards citizenship for undocumented students who were brought to this country as children. Please support and sign!

Read more!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lucha Elections

The new steering committee has been elected. The positions are as follows:

Chair: Johanna Ocaña
Vice Chair: Jessica Medina
Secretary: Anna Folkens
Treasurer: Fayette Colon
Public Relations Coordinator: Iliana Feliz
Publicity Chair: Zoe Willmott
Group Liason: Nora Searle
El Participante Print Editor: Daniela Garcia
El Participante Blog Editor: Melquiades Fernandez
Alum Liason: Yadira Alvarez

Read more!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hunter Walkout and CUNY-Wide Rally

New York State is cutting +$50M to the City University of New York.
Whose education are they cutting?

45.5% of CUNY students work more than 20 hours/week
53.5% of CUNY students have a household income of less than $30,000
37.3% of CUNY students were not born in the US
72.8% of CUNY students self-identify as students of color



HUNTER COLLEGE WALKOUT (68TH St & Lexington Ave) - 2PM

*(Subway Lines to Hunter: 6 to 68th St, F to 63rd St)
(Subway Lines to BMCC/City Hall: 1/2/3 to Chambers St.; A/C to Chambers St.;
R/W to City Hall; E to World Trade Center; 4/5/6/J/Z to Brooklyn Bridge/City

Read more!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

NYU Students Occupy Building

Students at New York University have taken over a building. Show your support!


We, the students of NYU, declare an occupation of this space. This occupation is the culmination of a two-year campaign by the Take Back NYU! coalition, and of campaigns from years past, in whose footsteps we follow.

In order to create a more accountable, democratic and socially responsible university, we demand the following:

  1. Full legal and disciplinary amnesty for all parties involved in the occupation.
  2. Full compensation for all employees whose jobs were disrupted during the course of the occupation.
  3. Public release of NYU’s annual operating budget, including a full list of university expenditures, salaries for all employees compensated on a semester or annual basis, funds allocated for staff wages, contracts to non-university organizations for university construction and services, financial aid data for each college, and money allocated to each college, department, and administrative unit of the university. Furthermore, this should include a full disclosure of the amount and sources of the university’s funding.
  4. Disclosure of NYU’s endowment holdings, investment strategy, projected endowment growth, and persons, corporations and firms involved in the investment of the university’s endowment funds. Additionally, we demand an endowment oversight body of students, faculty and staff who exercise shareholder proxy voting power for the university’s investments.
  5. That the NYU Administration agrees to resume negotiations with GSOC/UAW Local 2110 – the union for NYU graduate assistants, teaching assistants, and research assistants. That NYU publicly affirm its commitment to respect all its workers, including student employees, by recognizing their right to form unions and to bargain collectively. That NYU publicly affirm that it will recognize workers’ unions through majority card verification.
  6. That NYU signs a contract guaranteeing fair labor practices for all NYU employees at home and abroad. This contract will extend to subcontracted workers, including bus drivers, food service employees and anyone involved in the construction, operation and maintenance at any of NYU’s non-U.S. sites.
  7. The establishment of a student elected Socially Responsible Finance Committee. This Committee will have full power to vote on proxies, draft shareholder resolutions, screen all university investments, establish new programs that encourage social and environmental responsibility and override all financial decisions the committee deems socially irresponsible, including investment decisions. The committee will be composed of two subcommittees: one to assess the operating budget and one to assess the endowment holdings. Each committee will be composed of ten students democratically elected from the graduate and under-graduate student bodies. All committee decisions will be made a strict majority vote, and will be upheld by the university. All members of the Socially Responsible Finance Committee will sit on the board of trustees, and will have equal voting rights. All Socially Responsible Finance Committee and Trustee meetings shall be open to the public, and their minutes made accessible electronically through NYU’s website. Elections will be held the second Tuesday of every March beginning March 10th2009, and meetings will be held biweekly beginning the week of March 30th 2009.
  8. That the first two orders of business of the Socially Responsible Finance committee will be:
    a) An in depth investigation of all investments in war and genocide profiteers, as well as companies profiting from the occupation of Palestinian territories.
    b) A reassessment of the recently lifted of the ban on Coca Cola products.
  9. That annual scholarships be provided for thirteen Palestinian students, starting with the 2009/2010 academic year. These scholarships will include funding for books, housing, meals and travel expenses.
  10. That the university donate all excess supplies and materials in an effort to rebuild the University of Gaza.
  11. Tuition stabilization for all students, beginning with the class of 2012. All students will pay their initial tuition rate throughout the course of their education at New York University.  Tuition rates for each successive year will not exceed the rate of inflation, nor shall they exceed one percent. The university shall meet 100% of government-calculated student financial need.
  12. That student groups have priority when reserving space in the buildings owned or leased by New York University, including, and especially, the Kimmel Center.
  13. That the general public have access to Bobst Library.


We, the students of Take Back NYU! declare our solidarity with the student occupations in Greece, Italy, and the United Kingdom, as well as those of the University of Rochester, the New School for Social Research, and with future occupations to come in the name of democracy and student power. We stand in solidarity with the University of Gaza, and with the people of Palestine.

Read more!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Boycott NY Post until Sean Delonas is Fired

The Huffington Post recently drew attention to this shocking cartoon published in the NY Post today. The cartoon, although reputedly playing off a chimp rampage in Connecticut, the deeper meaning is clear. Obama, as a black man, is the chimp who wrote the stimulus bill, and in the cartoon, has apparently been mistakenly shot by two police officers. What point could be conveyed, other than drawing together several of the most offensive racist tropes, is unclear. Such blatant racism is surprising, even from a publication as opportunistic as the Post. 

It is worth listing the racist tropes which this cartoon invokes. 
1. Black people are less than human, they are apes. 
2. Police shoot black people mistakenly, like animals, or chimps (but as a conservative paper, this is portrayed as hardly prolematic). 
3. Obama, as the author of the stimulus package, is incompentent and stupid because he is black/a monkey
4. Suggestive of the assassination of the US's first black president, a goal openly advocated by white supremcist groups. 

Gawker has compiled the cartoons of Sean Delonas, and it is very clear that this scum-bag artist loves to appeal to the very lowest forms of humour. If anyone doubted that this cartoon was blatantly racist, only check out some of Delonas's other fine offerings. 

Read more!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Faculty Charged Bollinger with Inconsistency on Israel and Palestine

The Columbia faculty have taken a decisive step in criticizing Bollinger, who led the outcry against a British boycott of Israeli universities, but how has remained starkly silent on how the massacre in Gaza violated every value of academic freedom.

Columbia students and alumni should sign the petition here.

The Letter to Bollinger:

Letter on Academic Freedom in Palestine

Dear President Bollinger,

On a number of occasions since becoming president of Columbia University you have expressed your views in public on questions of academic freedom in the Middle East. Yet you have remained silent on the actions by Israel that deny that freedom to Palestinians.

These actions include Israel's continuing blockade of Gaza, the imposing of barriers, checkpoints, and closures around and within the West Bank that make academic life unworkable, the denial of exit visas to Palestinian scholars offered fellowships abroad or invited to international conferences, including scholars invited to Columbia, and the recent three-week war against Gaza that included not only the bombing of Palestinian schools and colleges, with great loss of life, but the widespread destruction of the material and social fabric on which academic life depends.

We, as Columbia and Barnard faculty, ask you now to make public your opposition to these actions and your support for the academic freedom of Palestinians.

Read more!

Chavez Wins Referendum to End Term Limits

In a vote closely watched around Latin America and in the United States, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has won a decisive victory in a referendum repealing term limits that would have ended Chavez's presidency in 2013, as the New York Times reports here.

The Party for Socialism and Liberation, ardent supporters of Chavez, will be discussing it at their open New York City meeting this Friday.

This Friday, February 20, 7pm
2295 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. on 135th street
2/3 or B/C to 135th Street

New Steps Forward in Venezuela's Revolution

The Venezuelan people yesterday delivered a powerful 'yes' vote to amend their constitution changing term limits to public offices. The referendum result allows president Hugo Chavez to run for a third term.

The vote comes 3 months after the United Socialist Party of Venezuela won in a landslide in regional elections. The campaign drew millions of people into politics and showed the mass support for the Bolivarian revolution.

At the same time, the U.S. launched a defamation campaign trying to destroy the constitutional amendment. Using the right wing media they threatened to disregard the results of the public referendum. Come hear a presentation on the developing political battle in Venezuela.

Read more!

Day Laborers Robbed, Beaten and Shot with Impunity in New Orleans

The Times has an excellent story detailing the problems facing day laborers in New Orleans. Much like the case of Marcelo Lucero, posted earlier, who was murdered on Long Island, the day laborers who are doing much of the work of rebuilding New Orleans face the constant threat of robbery from armed gangs of men, mostly black, exacerbating tensions between Latinos and African Americans in the city.

NEW ORLEANS — They are the men still rebuilding New Orleans more than three years after Hurricane Katrina, the head-down laborers from Honduras, Mexico and Guatemala who work on the blazing hot roofs and inside the fetid homes for a wad of cash at the end of the day.

But on the street, these laborers are known as “walking A.T.M.’s.”

Their pockets stuffed with bills, the laborers are vulnerable because of language problems and their status as illegal immigrants. And as Hispanics have become the prey of choice in crumbling neighborhoods here in one of America’s most crime-ridden cities, racial friction between the newcomers and longtime black residents has moved close to the surface.

Geovanny Billado, a worker from Honduras, spoke of one incident in which “they waited to punch me,” and “one of them stabs me with a knife.” It was four against one, Mr. Billado said, and he lost the $350 he had earned; another time, it was seven against one.

“You don’t get a chance to say anything,” he said. “They just fall on top of you. It’s better to just give the money up front. If you don’t give it to them, they’ll beat you and take it anyway.”

It is an under-the-radar crime epidemic: unarmed Hispanic workers are regularly mugged, beaten, chased, stabbed or shot, the police and the workers themselves say. The ruined homes they sometimes squat in, doubling- or quadrupling-up at night, are broken into, and they have been made to lie face down while being robbed.

Read full article at

Read more!

Norman Finkelstein speaking at the University of Alberta on January 22, 2009

Norman Finkelstein recently spoke about the massacre in Gaza. Youtube video of the event and the Q&A following is available here.

Read more!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Call your Senator!

Here' some troubling news from some of the U.S. Senate offices in Washington D.C. Apparently there are a number of Senators who are thinking about voting against the economic stimulus legislation if there are higher education funding increases, such as the Pell Grant & Federal Work-Study programs in it.

Call your Senator today at 202-224-3121 and tell them that investments like the Pell Grant and other higher education provisions MUST be kept in the final economic stimulus.

Here is a sample script for making your phone call:

"Hi, my name is ________________ and I am a constituent of Senator ______________. I am calling today in coalition with students across the country and the United States Student Association to urge Senator _____________ to include increases to the Pell Grant and other higher education provisions in the economic Recovery legislation to be voted on this week. For families hit hardest by the economic downturn or workers who have lost jobs, a $500 increase in the Pell Grant maximum award may well make the difference between staying in college for the spring semester or putting college attendance on hold; or in choosing re-training in a new field over unemployment. It is critical that higher education be a major part of any economic stimulus legislation that Congress votes on and I am urging Senator_____________ to only vote for economic recovery that is good for students and working families. Thank you for your time."


Read more!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

NYTimes Editorial On Immigration

The New York Times publishes an excellent editorial, pointing out that anti-immigrant politics may be one of the primary new directions adopted by the Republican Party. It is posted in full below: 


The Nativists Are Restless

Published: January 31, 2009

The relentlessly harsh Republican campaign against immigrants has always hidden a streak of racialist extremism. Now after several high-water years, the Republican tide has gone out, leaving exposed the nativism of fringe right-wingers clinging to what they hope will be a wedge issue.

Last week at the National Press Club in Washington, a group seeking to speak for the future of the Republican Party declared that its November defeats in Congressional races stemmed not from having been too hard on foreigners, but too soft.

The group, the American Cause, released a report arguing that anti-immigration absolutism was still the solution for the party’s deep electoral woes, actual voting results notwithstanding. Rather than “pander to pro-amnesty Hispanics and swing voters,” as President Bush and Karl Rove once tried to do, the report’s author, Marcus Epstein, urged Republicans to double down on their efforts to run on schemes to seal the border and drive immigrants out.

This is nonsense, of course. For years Americans have rejected the cruelty of enforcement-only regimes and Latino-bashing, in opinion surveys and at the polls. In House and Senate races in 2008 and 2006, “anti- amnesty” hard-liners consistently lost to candidates who proposed comprehensive reform solutions. The wedge did not work for single-issue xenophobes like Lou Barletta, the mayor of Hazleton, Pa., or the former Arizona Congressman J. D. Hayworth. Nor did it help any of the Republican presidential candidates trying to defeat the party’s best-known voice of immigration moderation, John McCain, for the nomination.

Americans want immigration solved, and they realize that mass deportations will not do that. When you add the unprecedented engagement of growing numbers of Latino voters in 2008, it becomes clear that the nativist path is the path to permanent political irrelevance. Unless you can find a way to get rid of all the Latinos.

What was perhaps more notable than the report itself was the team that delivered it. It included Bay Buchanan, former adviser to Representative Tom Tancredo and sister of Pat, who founded the American Cause and wrote “State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America.” She was joined by James Pinkerton, an essayist and Fox News contributor who, as an aide to the first President Bush, took credit for the racist Willie Horton ads run against Michael Dukakis.

So far, so foul. But even more telling was the presence of Peter Brimelow, a former Forbes editor and founder of, an extremist anti-immigration Web site. It is named for Virginia Dare, the first white baby born in the English colonies, which tells you most of what you need to know. The site is worth a visit. There you can read Mr. Brimelow’s and Mr. Buchanan’s musings about racial dilution and the perils facing white people, and gems like this from Mr. Epstein:

“Diversity can be good in moderation — if what is being brought in is desirable. Most Americans don’t mind a little ethnic food, some Asian math whizzes, or a few Mariachi dancers — as long as these trends do not overwhelm the dominant culture.”

It is easy to mock white-supremacist views as pathetic and to assume that nativism in the age of Obama is on the way out. The country has, of course, made considerable progress since the days of Know-Nothings and the Klan. But racism has a nasty habit of never going away, no matter how much we may want it to, and thus the perpetual need for vigilance.

It is all around us. Much was made of the Republican mailing of the parody song “Barack the Magic Negro,” but the same notorious CD included “The Star Spanglish Banner,” a puerile bit of Latino-baiting. It is easily found on YouTube. Google the words “Bill O’Reilly” and “white, Christian male power structure” for another YouTube taste of the Fox News host assailing the immigration views of “the far left” (including The Times) as racially traitorous.

And it takes only a cursory look at a worsening economic climate and grim national mood to realize that history is always threatening to repeat itself. Last week on Long Island, the authorities in Suffolk County unsealed new indictments against a group of teenage boys accused in a murderous attack against an Ecuadorean immigrant, Marcelo Lucero. Since that crime last year, many more victims have come forward with stories of assaults in or near the same town, Patchogue. The police in that suburb seem to have made a habit of ignoring a long and escalating trail of attacks against immigrant men, until the hatred rose up and spilled over one night, fatally.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Activists Arrested Protesting AIPAC

Colin Dillon
973 214 0916

Blockade Protest of AIPAC Fundraiser at Times Square Marriott Hotel

At 6:30 PM on Thursday, January 29, ten young activists peacefully blocked the two main entrances to the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square to protest the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Fundraising Gala. The action, which lasted just under two hours, coincided with a 250-person protest rally in front of the hotel, separately organized by the Break the Siege On Gaza Coalition—Student Committee. All ten activists were arrested,
spurring the formation of a campaign for their defense and for the conscious escalation of pro-Gaza activism.

More than a month after Israel began its massive assault on Gaza and amidst international protests, AIPAC held a $1500-a-plate fundraising dinner, its largest event of the year. The event was attended by prominent business people, lobbyists and U.S. politicians, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The blockade disrupted what the participating activists considered a disgraceful gathering.

The Marriott blockade comes on the heels of several similar actions opposing Israel's recent conduct that have occurred in cities around the world such as Toronto and San Francisco and at over a dozen universities in England. In its scope, tactics, and goals, the movement to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine recalls the movement that arose in opposition to Apartheid in South Africa. Campaign participant Conor Tomás Reed said, "the blockade is a contribution to this international struggle and can serve as a catalyst for
future actions."

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

ISO Kick Off-Meeting - Marx was Right

The International Socialist Organization at Columbia is showing new signs of life. For those interested, Brian Jones, featured at this introductory meeting, is one of the New York's most compelling socialist activists. 

Time and Place
Thursday, February 5, 2009
7:00pm - 9:00pm
La Pregunta Arts Cafe (1 train to 137th m11, m100, or m101 bus to 136th)
1528 Amsterdam Avenue between 135th and 136th streets
New York, NY
Contact Info

They said that Marx was dead—that capitalism had triumphed. Then came the realities of globalization. Then came endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then came the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Now, Marx's ideas seem to explain the world a lot better than what you see on Fox News. But Marx also predicted that the inequalities of capitalism would give rise to resistance. And we've only just begun to see the emergence of a new generation of struggles, from the protests for immigrant rights, to the factory occupations of workers in Chicago, to the massive outpouring of solidarity with the people of Gaza and Palestine. Socialists believe that these struggles can be joined to fight for a different type of society—one in which greed, inequality and war are replaced with solidarity and justice. Come to a discussion of Marx's ideas and how they apply to today and then get involved in helping us to build a socialist movement! As Marx himself said, "philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point is tochange it!"

Part of a city-wide tour sponsored by the International Socialist Organization

For more information go to 

Guest Speaker: 
Brian Jones 

Brian Jones is a teacher, actor and activist in New York City. His commentary and writing have been featured on GritTV, and the International Socialist Review.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Columbia University Community Stands with Gaza

While the international community has been remarkably vocal in condemning the most recent large scale attacks on Gaza's civilian population, the scale of Palestinian death, injury and displacement is largely absent in accounts of the war by US government spokespersons (both the Bush and now the Obama administrations), mainstream media, and even within our own Columbia community.

We are planning a series of events on campus for the coming week of January 26-30. We want to let you know about the first three events we are organizing to kick off the upcoming week (starting Monday, 26 January) and to invite you to join us in standing in solidarity with the people of Gaza during this devastating time.

We want your support to break the silence. These are the most immediate ways in which you can help -

1. Join the Columbia Community in Standing with Gaza - *12 - 1pm on MONDAY, 26 January: LOW PLAZA*

This will be our first, day-time effort to be a physical presence in the center of Columbia's campus. It will be a silent event to extend solidarity from the entire spectrum of communities within Columbia to Palestinians in Gaza. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has sparked the concern of an incredible range of groups who may identify with the kinds of oppression and violence that have been experienced by Palestinians there. We therefore see this as an opportunity to make visible the solidarity of that range of groups across our campus and New York City, and to hand out fact sheets and talk to our fellow students. As many of you may already know, a handful of groups here at Columbia are voicing support for Israel's attacks on the civilian population of Gaza as well as support for continuing US aid to Israel's military - by holding a rally at this same time on campus! For this reason we think it is all the more urgent for the rest of the Columbia Community to make it clear that these positions do not represent the majority of our views here.


* Make and bring a sign that expresses your thoughts and feelings about the attacks on Gaza. MAKE YOUR PRESENCE KNOWN.

* One suggestion is for as many of us as possible to make signs that will say "________ Stand(s) with Gaza." For example:
o "Columbia Students Stand with Gaza"
o "Jewish Students Stand with Gaza"
o "People of Color Stand with Gaza"
o "Queers Stand with Gaza

2. Candlelight Vigil in Solidarity with the People of Gaza - *5:30pm - 6:30pm on MONDAY, 26 January: SUNDIAL*

This will be the first of a series of vigils that we will hold for 4 nights during the week of January 26th. We are compiling the names of the estimated 1,300 Palestinian dead in Gaza from the most recent weeks of Israeli attacks. We want the Columbia community to participate in reading the names, and to light a candle, as homage to the dead, the thousands of wounded and to the tens of thousands displaced -- many for the second or third time in their lives -- and who are now facing a bitter winter without homes or shelter.

3. Speak Out and Learn About GAZA - Join Students & Faculty Speaking Out - *12 - 2pm on TUESDAY, 27 January: SUNDIAL.

Voice your opinion and learn more about the context, implications and ramifications of the Israeli military attacks on Gaza. This will be an opportunity for all members of the Columbia Community to voice their concerns and perspectives about the crisis in Gaza, its regional and historical context, the role of the United States as well as Columbia University's direct and indirect involvement in the continuing Israeli/Palestinian conflict. There will be faculty, student as well as guest speakers.


* Forward this announcement widely, tell your friends, classmates and any relevant groups.

* Send an email to Kaet at if you or your group would like to *speak* on Tues, 27 Jan.

* Send an email to Kaet at if you or your group would like to SPONSOR the Speak-Out or vigils.

4. Tell as many people as you can

* about Monday's 12 - 1pm Stand with Gaza event,

* about the Candlelight Vigils that will be going on EVERY NIGHT from Monday to Thursday (26 - 29 January),

* about the name readings and about the SPEAK OUT out from 12 - 2pm on Tuesday, 27 January.

* Talk to fellow professors and fellow students. If you're an Instructor/TA, talk to students in section/class. Mail this to any list-servs you belong to. Above all, join us on the this week of action in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

Above all, do not be silent. We have been silent long enough.

Join us.

Join the facebook group here.

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Israel PM Will Protect Military from War Crimes Tribunals

With mounting complaints from human rights organizations of indiscriminate firing and the use of white phosphorous shells in civilian areas by the the Israeli military, the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered assurance that Israeli military personnel would be protected from any prosecution for war crimes by an international tribunal. The assertion was shocking in that it seemed to both acknowledge the possibility that war crimes had been committed, and to assert that Israel could commit these atrocities in defiance of international law with little fear of retribution. This international landscape, in which force and use of practices forbidden by international law are freely resorted to, whether it be Georgia and Russia or Israel, are the fruits of the United States' policies in invading and occupying Iraq. The BBC has the full story on PM Olmert and Israeli war crimes.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Israeli "Democracy"

Israel has long defended its aggressive policies by claiming to be the only democracy in a region dominated by dictatorships and defunct democracies. The overwhelmingly disproportionate share of foriegn aid that Israel receives from the United States is also defended on the grounds of "democracy." To those who love to wax poetic about Israeli democracy, the fundamentally exclusionary and racist policies on which Zionist democracy has been constructed became strikingly clear when the election commission banned all of Israeli's Arab political parties from running in the upcoming elections. The AP has the whole story here.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Police Execute Man at Train Station in Oakland

It seems impossible to explain why an officer for the Bay Area Rapid Transit Police shot and killed Oscar Grant execution style in the early morning of New Years Day. The Oakland community has begun to react with outrage, and clashes with police have escalated.

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Police Ignored Pattern of Violence Against Latinos in Long Island

The attack by a group of teenage boys that led tothe death of Marcelo Lucero, an immigrant from Ecuador, was not simply an isolated incident, but part of a long pattern of violence against Latinos by the young men in the neighborhood.  The Times provides an important look into why many believe that the Police failed to notice a clear pattern of racially motivated violence.

From the Times article: 

The attacks were such an established pastime that the youths, who have pleaded not guilty, had a casual and derogatory term for it, “beaner hopping.” One of the youths told the authorities, “I don’t go out doing this very often, maybe once a week.”

That was not news to Latinos in Patchogue, who say that regular harassment, muggings and assaults have had them living in fear — 11 men told The New York Times of 13 attacks, nine of them in the past two years.

But the Suffolk County police said it was news to them.

“We hadn’t noticed this,” Richard Dormer, the Suffolk County police commissioner, said in an interview last month when asked about the attacks by groups of young men. “And that’s a concern to us.”

Mr. Orellana is one of many Latino residents who believe that Mr. Lucero would be alive today if the police had taken crimes against them more seriously and recognized them as symptoms of a larger problem. While some Latino immigrants say they are reluctant to report crimes because they are in the country illegally or fear the police will assume they are, they and their advocates believe the police did not see a pattern because they did not want to see one.

“I told people, here the authorities are waiting for a white to kill a Hispanic or a Hispanic to kill a white,” Mr. Orellana said. “They keep attacking and robbing, and nothing changes. There had to be a death, and the death was Lucero.”

Prosecutors say the teenagers charged in the attack on Mr. Lucero chased another Latino man and shot a BB gun at a third that day. But the problems began long before Mr. Lucero’s death. And by the men’s accounts, the series of attacks involved far more teenagers.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Reports of Massive Civilian Casualties in Gaza

The Telegraph provides a chilling report from a paramedic who witnessed the aftermath of an Israeli attack that left some 70 civilians dead, all from a single family in Gaza.  So many seem to believe that this war is complicated, that the issues are intractable. Hamas is a complicated organization, and its tactics and attacks on civilians are certainly deplorable, but the root of this problem is the continued occupation of Palestinian lands and the Zionist refusal of the right of return. The issues are not complicated. This is a politically calculated use of brute force to inflict collective punishment on the Palestinian people. It will not work, even from a realist Israeli perspective. It only leaves Israeli more isolated and more of a pariah. 

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Other Side of the Story

Here's an interesting juxtaposition of images telling the story of Gaza and Israel. Check it out.

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

National March on Washington
Saturday, January 10

Assemble at the White House (north side) at 1:00 PM

New Sponsors   ~   Endorse   ~   Organize Transportation

Gaza wounded child 1.4 cropped
A man carries his wounded child
into a hospital in Gaza City.

A doctor in Gaza's main hospital reported that children make up 30 percent of the casualties, among the dead and wounded, in the second day of the ground invasion. The time to act is now! Local marches have taken place all over the country. Now is the time to bring the outrage of the people right to the steps of the White House.

We are sending a message to both Bush and the incoming Obama administration: This war of aggression must end immediately! People all over the world will be marching in their country's capital cities on Saturday, January 10. The people of this country will come together in Washington, D.C., to say NO to the government that speaks in their name and uses their tax dollars to fund Israel to the tune of over $15 million per day.

Please see below for important updates on the Saturday, January 10 LET GAZA LIVE National March on Washington.

Gaza Chicago 1.2.09

Tens of thousands have marched across the country.
Above: Chicago, January 2

New Sponsors

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), American Muslim Task Force (AMT), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), American Muslim Alliance (AMA), Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA), Voters for Peace (VFP) and many others have become sponsoring organizations of the January 10 Let Gaza Live National March on Washington, along with the ANSWER Coalition, Muslim American Society Freedom (MASF), Free Palestine Alliance (FPA), National Council of Arab Americans (NCA), Al-Awda - International Palestine Right to Return Coalition, and hundreds of others.

Become an Endorser

Click here to add your individual or organizational endorsement.

Organize Transportation to DC

Buses are being organized to bring people to Washington, D.C., from across the East Coast, Midwest and South. Now is the time to stand together in DC in solidarity with the people of Gaza!

If you are organizing transportation, fill click here to fill out the Transportation Form. This will allow others to find out about transportation options, and it will ensure that you receive important logistical information regarding the plans for Saturday.

Plan for Saturday, January 10

The Saturday, January 10 LET GAZA LIVE National March in Washington, D.C., will gather at the White House (north side, Lafayette Park) at 1:00 PM. The protest will be located between the Bush White House and the Hay Adams Hotel, where President-Elect Obama is now residing, which is located on the north side of Lafayette Park.

There will be coinciding West Coast demonstrations in San Francisco (11 am at Civic Center) , Los Angeles (12 noon at Westwood Federal Building), San Diego (details TBA) and elsewhere.

Help Spread the Word

Click here to view a flyer for the demonstration. It is a 8.5x11 inch PDF that you can view, print and reproduce. If you are in the Washington, D.C., area, you can pick up flyers from the ANSWER Coalition office at 1247 E St. SE.

Please spread the word online through Facebook, Myspace, email, listserves, blogs and bulletin boards; and talk to your family, friends, co-workers, classmates and people you meet on the street!

Calendar of Emergency Demonstrations Taking Place This Week

Statements from the Free Palestine Alliance

The Free Palestine Alliance, a member group of the ANSWER Coalition National Steering Committee, has been writing daily statements about the Gaza Strip Massacre. These are important statements of political orientation from the Palestinian-American community. Click here to read the statements issued by the Free Palestine Alliance.

Send a letter to the State Department and Congress

Join with people around the country and around the world who are demanding an end to U.S. aid to Israel. This is an urgent situation and we must all act now. You can send a letter with our easy click and send system demanding an end to U.S. aid to Israel. Without U.S. aid, the Israeli military attacks, siege and blockade of Gaza could not be continued. Click this link now to send a letter to the State Department and elected officials in Congress.

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"Get him! Get that nigger!"

In the December 17, 2008 issue of The Nation there appeared an article detailing how whites moved with impunity in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Check it out...

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bombing of Islamic University in Gaza

Neve Gord and Jeff Halper have written an excellent article focusing on the lack of response among the academic community to the recent bombing of the Islamic University in Gaza. While many American University Presidents, led by Lee Bollinger of Columbia University, were active in denouncing the British boycott of Israeli universities, none have had any thing to say about the Israeli Air forces collective punishment of the people of Gaza and the bold assault on Gaza's only major institution of higher learning. Counterpunch has many interesting contributors and is worth keeping an eye on.

Targeting Islamic University

Where's the Academic Outrage Over the Bombing of a University in Gaza?


Not one of the nearly 450 presidents of American colleges and universities who prominently denounced an effort by British academics to boycott Israeli universities in September 2007 have raised their voice in opposition to Israel’s bombardment of the Islamic University of Gaza earlier this week. Lee C. Bollinger, president of Columbia University, who organized the petition, has been silent, as have his co-signatories from Princeton, Northwestern, and Cornell Universities, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Most others who signed similar petitions, like the 11,000 professors from nearly 1,000 universities around the world, have also refrained from expressing their outrage at Israel’s attack on the leading university in Gaza. The artfully named Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, which organized the latter appeal, has said nothing about the assault.

While the extent of the damage to the Islamic University, which was hit in six separate airstrikes, is still unknown, recent reports indicate that at least two major buildings were targeted, a science laboratory and the Ladies’ Building, where female students attended classes. There were no casualties, as the university was evacuated when the Israeli assault began on Saturday.

Virtually all the commentators agree that the Islamic University wasattacked, in part, because it is a cultural symbol of Hamas, the ruling party in the elected Palestinian government, which Israel has targeted in its continuing attacks in Gaza. Mysteriously, hardly any of the news coverage has emphasized the educational significance of the university, which far exceeds its cultural or political symbolism.

Established in 1978 by the founder of Hamas — with the approval of Israeli authorities — the Islamic University is the first and most important institution of higher education in Gaza, serving more than 20,000 students, 60 percent of whom are women. It comprises 10 faculties — education, religion, art, commerce, Shariah law, science, engineering, information technology, medicine, and nursing — andawards a variety of bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Taking into account that Palestinian universities have been regionalized because Palestinian students from Gaza are barred by Israel from studying either in the West Bank or abroad, the educational significance of the Islamic University becomes even more apparent.

Those restrictions became international news last summer when Israel refused to grant exit permits to seven carefully vetted students from Gaza who had been awarded Fulbright fellowships by the State Department to study in the United States. After top State Department officials intervened, the students’ scholarships were restored — though Israel allowed only four of the seven to leave, even after appeals by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “It is a welcome victory — for the students,” opined The New York Times, and “for Israel, which should want to see more of Gaza’s young people follow a path of hope and education rather than hopelessness and martyrdom; and for the United States, whose image in the Middle East badly needs burnishing.”

Notwithstanding the importance of the Islamic University, Israel has tried to justify the bombing. An army spokeswoman told The Chronicle that the targeted buildings were used as “a research and development center for Hamas weapons, including Qassam rockets. … One of the structures struck housed explosives laboratories that were an inseparable part of Hamas’s research-and-development program, as well as places that served as storage facilities for the organization. The development of these weapons took place under the auspices of senior lecturers who are activists in Hamas.”

Islamic University officials deny the Israeli allegations. Yet even if there is some merit in them, it is common knowledge that practically all major American and Israeli universities are engaged in research and development of military applications and receive money from the Pentagon and defense corporations. Weapon development and even manufacturing have, unfortunately, become major projects at universities worldwide — a fact that does not justify bombing them.

By launching an attack on Gaza, the Israeli government has once again chosen to adopt strategies of violence that are tragically akin to the ones deployed by Hamas — only the Israeli tactics are much more lethal. How should academics respond to this assault on an institution of higher education? Regardless of one’s stand on the proposed boycott of Israeli universities, anyone so concerned about academic freedom as to put one’s name on a petition should be no less outraged when Israel bombs a Palestinian university. The question, then, is whether the university presidents and professors who signed the various petitions denouncing efforts to boycott Israel will speak out against the destruction of the Islamic University.

Neve Gordon is chair of the department of politics and government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and author of Israel’s Occupation(University of California Press, 2008).

Jeff Halper Jeff Halper is the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and author of An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel (Pluto Press, 2008).
 He can be reached at

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