Kirstein Interview on Palestine and Academic Freedom

I was interviewed by Ray Hanania on Arab Daily News at 2:00 pm.

I will be interviewed on Yahala Voice radio AM 1450 in Chicago today with Nesreen Balhut at 4:00 pm.

Topics will be on academic freedom and the Palestine/Israel wars. The conflict in Gaza and who knows what else? Maybe the US role in the Middle East too.

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The Cowardice of Israeli Air and Naval Forces

I wonder what the pilots of American-made jets, F-16 or helicopters, Apache (note the racist a la “Redskins” name), causing these war crimes against the outdoor prison of Gaza are thinking. They fly only a few miles from base, drop their bombs or fire their missiles at hospitals, U.N. schools, densely populated areas to demoralise the population and create internal resistance against Hamas. These despicable and bullying tactics of mass murder are unacceptable for a people constantly demanding that the holocaust or shoa never escape public memory.

These pilots never tire unlike real pilots who need refueling and travel thousands of kilometers. They never face AAA, anti-aircraft artillery. They never “engage”other aircraft. They take off, murder and return to their homes at night while funerals, mourning, hunger, fear and medical atrocities occur. Hamas has no air force or navy. Consider that!!

From the Nakba to now, we have a militarised nation, whose flag contains the exclusivity of a Jewish symbol, who uses any excuse to attack and destroy an entire nation under its relentless and cynical control. A concentration camp to be sure is Gaza. Israeli pilots should refuse to fly over it. Its navy without accuracy and without precision targeting kills babies on beaches. The navy which is responsible for war crimes common during World War II enforces a baby-killing, pulverising blockade allegedly so the resistance cannot obtain any materials in its drive for independence and freedom. The captains of those destroyers, frigates, corvettes, missile boats and gunboats are beyond the range of retaliation. The pilots of those jets flashing across the sky of urban areas are beyond retaliation.We have a nuclear power against a defenceless population and the US refuses to cut off aid, land a peacekeeping force into the region or demand cessation.

Samantha Power, the sage of genocide and mass murder, is silent over such carnage. Where is she now when these atrocities occur? Why does not the UN Representative denounce Israel for this suffering? She is silent and to be silent is to lie!!! The murders of the Israeli air force and navy are violations of Just War doctrine, the laws of war and international humanitarian law.

The blockade is illegal and appalling. The bombing of an urban enclave with scant concern for its residents is what Germany did to Rotterdam and Coventry and the US to Berlin and Nagasaki: indiscriminate strategic bombing. Until Israel is either forced to act as a civilised nation and brought to justice before the Hague, this continued crime against the Palestinian people will haunt the conscience of the world.

Racism, hatred of Islam and the use of American military power with Israeli perpetrators is inexcusable and a shame on both the United States and its Israeli partner in abuse and colonialism. I will have more to say about I.D.F. army’s invasion but today it is the air force and navy that must be exposed for what they are. Ruthless cowards who kill without risk of the slightest retaliation.

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Israeli Professors Denounce War Crimes of Nuclear Armed Nation Against Gaza Colony

Professors in Israel are freer to criticise their nation than US academics. Middle East Study programmes are under siege, the nation’s leading scholar on Palestine, Norman Finkelstein, is denied tenure at DePaul due to the Israel Lobby and in particular the vicious, remorseless attacks of Alan Dershowitz. Richard Berthold and Nicholas De Genova are forced to retire or denounced by their university president for daring to condemn American war crimes in Iraq or defend the 9/11 attacks as retaliation and not terrorism. Ward Churchill is investigated for violating scholarly standards only after he is under national attack for comments referring to US casualties during 9/11 as “little Eichmanns.” Iymen Chehade has a course removed due to a student complaint about the showing of 5 Broken Cameras. The course section on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict was restored only after significant public discourse and publicity emerged concerning this incident. So why are professors in Israel freer to exercise academic freedom in dissenting from Israeli policy than their counterparts in the US? Why is the Israel Lobby stronger here than the Israeli government there in silencing narratives that deviate from the prescribed, demanded norm? While the tolerance toward greater freedom in condemning the zionist State of Israel’s crimes against humanity is increasing in the US, it is still one of the few areas in the social sciences and humanities that is under taboo!

Statement by Israeli academics July 2014

The signatories to this statement, all academics at Israeli universities, wish it to be known that they utterly deplore the aggressive military strategy being deployed by the Israeli government. The slaughter of large numbers of wholly innocent people is placing yet more barriers of blood in the way of the negotiated agreement which is the only alternative to the occupation and endless oppression of the Palestinian people. Israel must agree to an immediate cease-fire, and start negotiating in good faith for the end of the occupation and settlements, through a just peace agreement.
If you are an Israeli academic, working in Israel, and would like to sign this statement, please send an email to Prof. Rachel Giora rachel.giora@gmail.com with your name, title and affiliation.

Academics in Israeli universities who have signed the statement above:

Prof. Rachel Giora, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Emmanuel Farjoun, Hebrew University
Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Hebrew University
Dr. Kobi Snitz, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
Dr. Anat Matar, Tel Aviv University
Dr Efrat Ben-Zeev, Ruppin Academic Center
Prof. As’ad Ghanem, Haifa University
Prof. Anat Biletzki, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Adi Ophir, Tel Aviv University
Dr. Ovadia Ezra, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Zvi Tauber, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Vered Kraus, Haifa University
Dr. Yuval Yonay, Haifa University
Prof. Oded Goldreich, Weizman Institute
Prof. Dana Ron, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Gadi Algazi, Tel Aviv University
Professor Mira Ariel, Tel Aviv University
Professor Idan Landau, Ben Gurion University
Professor As’ad Ghanem, Haifa University
Dr. Ayelet Ben-Yishai, Haifa University
Prof. Micah Leshem, Haifa University
Dr. Ilan Saban, University of Haifa
Prof. Avishai Ehrlich, Academic College Tel Aviv Jaffa
Dr. Ivy Sichel, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Prof. Yehuda Shenhav, TAU
Dr. Hannah Safran, The Academic College for Society and the Arts
Dr. Yael Ben-zvi, Ben-Gurion University
Prof. Dudy Tzfati, Hebrew University
Dr. Tikva Honig-Parnass, Jerusalem
Professor David Blanc, University
Dr. Haim Yacobi Bezalel, Ben Gurion University
Elizabeth Ritter, Ben-Gurion University
Paul Wexler, Professor Emeritus, Tel-Aviv University
Prof. Tal Siloni, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Amatzia Weisel, Tel Aviv University (retired)
Prof. Tamar Katriel, Haifa University
Dr. Haim Deuelle Luski, Tel Aviv University & Bezalel Academy of Art
Prof. Matania Ben-Artzi, Hebrew University
Dr. Roy Wagner, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Professor Uri Hadar, Tel Aviv University
Professor Shlomo Sand, Tel Aviv University
Professor Yuri Pines, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Amira Katz, Hebrew University Jerusalem
Prof. Julia Horvath, Tel-Aviv University
Dr. Arie M. Dubnov, University of Haifa
Dr. Raz Chen-Morris, Bar Ilan University
Dr. Amalia Sa’ar, University of Haifa
Dr. Zvi Schuldiner, Sapir College
Dr. Orly Lubin, Tel Aviv University
Yoav Beirach, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Colman Altman, Technion
Prof. Hubert Law-Yone, Technion
Dr. Udi Adiv, Open University
Dr. Efraim Davidi, Tel-Aviv University
Dr. Shakhar Rahav, University of Haifa
Dr. Aura Mor-Sommerfeld, Haifa University
Dr. Michael Dahan, Sapir College
Prof. Abraham Mansbach, Ben Gurion University
Dr. Carola Hilfrich, The Hebrew University
Prof. Freddie Rokem, Tel Aviv University
Dr. Dafna Hirsch, The Open University of Israel
Dr. Smadar Sharon, College of Management Academic Studies
Prof. Shai Lavi, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Issi Rosen-Zvi, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Nomi Erteschik-Shir, Ben-Gurion University
Tamar Pelleg Sryck, Tel Aviv, Human rights lawyer
Prof. Tova Rosen, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Eva Jablonka, Tel Aviv University

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End the Palestinian Holocaust in Gaza

Please take a few minutes to make these calls – today and every day until this ends.

1. Contact President Obama at (202) 456-1111 and the State Department at (202) 647-4000. Demand that they immediately withdraw U.S. military aid from Israel and call on Israel to immediately end its attacks. Tell them to stop supporting Israel’s crimes with our tax dollars.

2. Call the Egyptian Embassy at (202) 895-5400 and demand they open the Rafah border for injured Palestinians in need of urgent medical care. Alternate number: (
202) 966-6342.


3. Call Boeing. Boeing provides Israel with F-15A fighter jets, Apache AH 64 helicopters, tungsten or DIMEbombs to attack Gaza. Boeing’s headquarters are located in Chicago. Contact Boeing at (312) 544-2140 and demand they stop giving Israel weapons to use against civilians in Gaza. 


Visit this link to see other corporations that are involved in the current attacks on Gaza. Look for a corporation near you if possible and call them and protest at their offices: 
http://afsc.org/resource/us-corporations-complicit-current-attacks-gaza

4. Call your U.S. Senators and ask that Congress demand an end to the siege of Gaza. If you’re from Illinois, call Senator Dick Durbin at his DC office at (202) 224-2152 and his Chicago office at (312) 353-4952.


If you’re not from Illinois, please look up your senator and ask the same. You can find your senators at 
http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm.
——


Since July 8, 2014, Israel had launched an intense and disproportionate bombing campaign and land incursion of the Gaza Strip, “Operation Protective Edge”.


In Gaza, 1.7 million Palestinians live in what is often referred to as an “open-air prison.” All of Gaza’s borders are restricted, including the side bordering the Mediterranean Sea, which is controlled by Israel. Israel has imposed an eight-year blockade on Gaza, making it extremely difficult and even impossible for Palestinians to go in and out of the Gaza Strip. Access to water, electricity, and basic goods have also been extremely limited.


In the latest operation, approximately 500 Palestinians have been killed thus far, the vast majority of which are civilians, including children and women. Thousands have been injured. About 20 Israeli soldier have been killed.


Israel has dropped bombs on civilian homes in Gaza, killing entire families. Schools, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers have also been attacked, killing students, doctors, and disabled patients.


Thousands of Palestinians have been left displaced and homeless due to of the damage to their homes from Israeli airstrikes. Electrical damage from the attacks has further crippled already inconsistent access to electricity in Gaza.


Palestinians have lived under 47 years of Israeli military occupation, and 66 years of ongoing colonization, dispossession, and apartheid.


Please take action to support human rights and end Israel’s impunity.

Lynn Pollack
lynnpollack@xx

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US Racist Press refers to Gaza Palestinians as “Militants” code-name for Terrorists

The US press calls Gazan Palestinian freedom fighters “militants.” Settler Jews who kill Palestinian children on the colonised West Bank are given more anodyne terms. Militant implies violent terrorism. The term “militant” is meant to delegitimise an effort to reverse what John Mearsheimer has described: “What has happened to the Palestinian people since 1948 is one of the great crimes of modern history.”

Indeed while I don’t approve of rocket fire, understand the Jews who created the zionist state in Palestine expelled 750,000 innocent Arabs from their rightful homes. They came in not as militants but real terrorists during the British Mandate such as the Stern Gang and Haganah and wiped out the indigenous population. As the US was created in large measure with the genocide of the Native Americans, Israel was created over the blood, killings and mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians such as Lydda in 1948. Virtually none of the commentary on the destruction of Gaza with its primary emphasis on Israel’s right of self-defence mentions the colonisation, occupation and on-going ethnic cleansing of settlement expansion in the West Bank.

Hamas is the latest creation of Theodor Herzl and Ze’ev Jabotinsky: the gift of a xenophobic, zionist ideology-admittedly born from decades if not centuries of persecution from the shtetls to the concentration camps in Poland. Hamas is the natural evolution of a oppressed people that since 1948 has been subjected to brutal repression and destruction by a nuclear power with a thriving economy, a westernised culture, and a military second to none in the Levant. This westernised nation that sees itself as European and not as a Middle East country, hates non-jews; hates the Arab religious tradition of both Sunni and Shi’a Muslim adherence. It believes with its power, nuclear deterrent, and puppy-dog lackey the United States, it can perpetually, under an Iron Dome missile defence and behind an illegal concentration-camp wall, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice, create an apartheid structure that will permit indefinite colonisation, occupation and ethnic cleansing.

Note a nuclear weapon may indeed some day be detonated in that region which would be an internationally catastrophic event of such magnitude that the world might not recover for decades from the violence and devastation such a fission detonation would unleash. Israel must return to its 1967 borders; it must redeploy out of the Jordan Valley; it must allow a Palestinian state; it must vacate but leave for the Palestinians its settlement structures; it must receive recognition from all Arab states; it must allow a peacekeeping force in appropriate borderland areas to insure security; it must reform itself from a Jewish state to a secular democracy respectful of all religious traditions in its territory; it must either allow some repatriation or significant compensation for land taken, villages destroyed, and mass murder in the name of zionism. It must engage in peace talks or it will find itself even more hated, vilified and the object of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) actions on the part of those with conscience and empathy for the oppressed.

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Columbia College Iymen Chehade Appointed to Illinois Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure

Michael Harkins, president of the Illinois Conference of the American Association of University Professors, has appointed Iymen Chehade, Columbia College Chicago, to its Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure. Matthew Abraham, DePaul University, resigned to take a position at the University of Arizona in Tucson. This followed my recommendation to Michael which was kindly accepted.

Mr Chehade was involved in a major academic freedom case concerning the number of section offerings of his course on the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict. Several members of Illinois Committee A  have personally been involved in highly publicised cases that directly impact the principles and policies of A.A.U.P.

Illinois Committee A played a major role in the restoration of one of Mr Chehade’s sections and in the recent censure of Northeastern Illinois University. We look forward to Mr Chehade’s insights and contributions to the committee’s work, looking forward.

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President Sharon Hahs of Northeastern Illinois Hits A.A.U.P. Censure

For two years I have waited for President Hahs to indicate what was inaccurate or false about the initial Illinois Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure report on the John Boyle denial of tenure. The American Association of University Professors (A.A.U.P.) National Committee A also inquired what additional, unreported reasons–if there were any–led to the tenure denial of the linguistics professor. The president, to her credit, did meet with the AAUP investigating committee and responded to ILL Committee A’s report.

At some point, however, she needs to reconsider this situation and its impact on the university. I think a few steps in concert with national A.A.U.P. could end the censure. L.S.U. for example is in the process of removing itself from A.A.U.P. censure. I would like to see N.E.I.U. do the same. I am sure President Hahs is not pleased with this development. Sometimes it takes a new president to effectuate a censure removal. Sometimes a sitting president chooses to institute reforms that benefit an entire university academic community even if it requires some soul searching. A.A.U.P. does not enjoy censure. It is not fun and not a triumph one gloats about. It is an effort in certain circumstances to address grievous violations of academic due process, academic freedom and other seminal areas of widely accepted A.A.U.P. standards and principles.

Inside Higher Ed was the first to report on President Hahs’s statement and stated the following:

“The university said that while A.A.U.P.’s decision was “disappointing,” it has “no practical effect on the university. It’s true that A.A.U.P. has no regulatory authority over colleges and universities. But past censures have moved institutions to embrace reform, sometimes after a change in presidents, as in the case of Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge. A.A.U.P. members on Saturday moved overwhelmingly to allow the association’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure to consider taking the university off its standing censure list sometime within the next year.”

This is President Hahs’s complete statement that I received this afternoon:

TO: University Community

FROM: Sharon Hahs, President

DATE: June 16, 2014

RE: American Association of University Professors Censure

I am writing to inform you that on June 14 the American Association of University Professors (A.A.U.P.) accepted a recommendation from Committee A to censure Northeastern Illinois University.

The A.A.U.P.’s decision was based on information published by Committee A last December in a report related to a confidential employment matter involving a former Northeastern faculty member. You may recall that I provided you a copy of that report and the University’s response to it in a University Announcement dated December 16, 2013.

Northeastern’s response to Committee A’s report last December noted that it included factual errors, misinterpretations of University policies and procedures, and flawed assumptions about the University’s governance structures and decision-making processes. Therefore, the University rejects the conclusions drawn in the report.

While the A.A.U.P.’s decision to accept the recommendation of censure is disappointing, it has no practical effect on Northeastern.

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Inside Higher Ed Covers Kirstein and AAUP Ill Committee A Role in NEIU Censure

Colleen Flaherty a reporter on faculty issues for Inside Higher Ed wrote the article on the American Association of University Professors censure of Northeastern Illinois University at their annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, June 14, 2014.

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AAUP Censures Northeastern Illinois University

The American Association of University Professors held their annual conference to mark the beginning of their centennial (1915-2015) in Washington. On June 14, they voted to censure Northeastern Illinois University. The groundwork for this case came from Illinois Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure. After national Committee A entered a motion to censure and an explanation behind its recommendation, I was called upon to present our support for the motion to censure that was adopted unanimously. These remarks are the unabridged version of my comments at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Northeastern Illinois University linguistics professor John Boyle, who earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, initially contacted the American Association of University Professors Illinois Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure on April 12, 2012. Professor Boyle requested intervention concerning issues related to his application for tenure. We advised him to defer, pending the president’s letter to the Board of Trustees. We also received several inquiries from other NEIU colleagues. Dr. Boyle contacted Illinois Committee A on July 3, 2012 and informed us that President Sharon Hahs had not recommended him for tenure or promotion to associate professor.

AAUP Illinois Conference A on Academic Freedom and Tenure submitted its initial report on this tenure-denial case to President Hahs on July 13. 2012.

We were very concerned given the outstanding evaluations Dr. Boyle received:

Every unit from the Chair of the Department of Linguistics, the Department of Linguistics, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and the University Personnel Committee evaluated Dr. Boyle’s teaching as “superior” and unanimously recommended him for tenure.

The AAUP Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities states that “faculty status…[is] primarily a faculty responsibility; this area includes…decisions not to reappoint, promotions, the granting of tenure…” It is unacceptable for a president to reject recommendations for tenure from four responsible academic units without providing substantive and specific reasons for reversal.

AAUP Committee A concluded that NEIU’s president arbitrarily and capriciously used collegiality as a unacceptable criterion to deny Dr. Boyle tenure:

Furthermore, you raise disturbing innuendos concerning  Dr. Boyle’s alleged lack of collegiality. Your letter  repeatedly refers to the issue of “cooperation with colleagues and students.” Illinois Committee A has not examined a single document that charges Dr. Boyle with a lack of collegiality vis-à-vis other faculty. The University Personnel Committee-produced data summaries of course evaluations are also probative that Dr. Boyle established a very good relationship with students.

The central issue that was raised against Dr. Boyle concerned a quarrel over advising turf and competing for student minors. Boyle was in the crossfire of a turf war between Linguistics and Teaching English as a Second Language faculty. Boyle tried to recruit more minors into his programme, as he should, and several bullying TESL tenured faculty wrote highly disparaging letters, without copying to Dr. Boyle, to senior administrators claiming poaching and raiding their department cache of minors. I thought students in this country could change minors and that professors could encourage students to minor in a certain area of study.

President Hahs ordered Professor Boyle to undergo a bizarre reeducation of sorts including tutoring in advising software techniques and strategies. He completed her requirement yet accidentally submitted a report on the successful completion of this training to the wrong office. Dr. Hahs cited the missed deadline as an infraction in her letter of tenure denial, even though she received it as soon as he realized what had happened.

A student complained Dr Boyle during class pressured students to switch their minor from TESL to Ling. The student filed the complaint after the class with Dr Boyle had ended, and when enrolled as the only student in a directed study course with a TESL faculty member who was associated with the sending of one of the damaging letters claiming poaching. Illinois Committee A’s report concluded:

This raises serious questions about the voluntary nature of the student complaint and whether it was coached. There is   evidence of only one student complaint during Dr. Boyle’s six-year probationary period. It concerned an alleged but permissible opinion that a professor made in the course of   instruction concerning academic minors. While we respect student complaints, and cannot prove or disprove the   accuracy of its substance, this is a trivial matter in the tenure and promotion case of Professor John Boyle.

President Hahs avoided any critique of either Professor Boyle’s teaching or scholarship just an absurd charge of alleged advising irregularities, a missed deadline and unsubstantiated collegiality concerns.

This case and the motion to censure was a culmination of significant cooperation between Illinois Committee A, national Committee A and the Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure and Governance. Key players were Hank Reichman, Jordan Kurland, Loretta Capeheart, from the ILL Conference Committee A and a faculty member at N.E.I.U., and the investigating committee whose chair was Rebecca J. Williams.

We wrote the report, submitted it to national and contacted both Committee A and the D.A.F.T.G. office seeking assistance. National decided to investigate, wrote their excellent report and graciously cited Illinois Committee A’s investigation.

No one likes censure but in this case it is absolutely essential that such action be taken to defend AAUP principles, defend the rights of faculty against arbitrary and capricious presidential diktat and preserve what remains of the tenure system and the treatment of tenure-track probationary faculty. It is necessary to censure Northeastern Illinois University to send a message to not only to their administration but also to other university presidents that teaching, scholarship and service are the triad of tenure-track documentary review: not politics, not anger with a dept. that supported a no-confidence vote, not trumped up charges of a lack of collegiality and getting even with probationary faculty just doing their job.

Peter N. Kirstein                                                                                                                                            Chair Illinois Committee A and Vice President of Illinois Conference

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Iraq and Vietnam: Identical Failures in Nation Building

The US has always failed in its imperialistic ventures to plant its American Exceptionalism abroad. After the 1973 Paris Peace Accords that ended the Vietnam War, President Richard M. Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who should have been tried and sentenced to life in prison as war criminals, hoped for a decent interval between the American withdrawal in defeat and the Vietcong and North Vietnamese unification of the country. In the spring of 1975 the A.R.V.N. the national army under the latest South Vietnamese dictator, disintegrated on the battlefield and in a few weeks, the widowed land was liberated with the capturing of Saigon in April 1975.  The A.R.V.N. just abandoned their positions from the Central Highlands, the delta, and left the battlefield as the country was unified under the communist north. Such an outcome would have occurred in 1956 had the Geneva Accords been accepted by the United States. It was not and 58,000 Americans were killed in action and millions of Vietnamese perished in this orgy of napalm, Agent Orange and frankly genocide.

Liberation of Ho Chi Minh City (then called Saigon) by anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist forces. April 1975 quick exit of Americans and South Vietnamese supporters from US Embassy.

The US invaded Iraq in 2003 in an unjust war to satisfy the murderous neo-cons who claimed that President Saddam Hussein, a Sunni from Tikrit, was developing W.M.D. including nuclear weapons. President George W. Bush who lied his nation into war and was never punished for the deaths of thousands of Americans and 10o,000s of Iraqis, overthrew the Hussein government and established a Shi’a dominated government. It trained, equipped a national army and left in 2011.

The interval is quite similar to Vietnam: within two to three years, the decent interval has become a cascade of Sunni victories as the gates of Baghdad are in the sights of the Sunnis insurrectionists who were overthrown through American imperialist actions in 2003-2011. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is in danger of having to flee his country even though the Shi’a are a majority in that wartorn country of Iraq. Iran may indeed intervene to salvage the Shi’a state. This war which Senator Hillary Clinton so ardently advocated and voted for in October 2002, although she never had to fight in it or send a daughter or son to fight! Remember that. As Iraq appears to be rapidly falling into a Sunni return to power despite billions spent on the Iraqi national army, we need to learn from history. The US leaves a country, its puppet regime tries to retain power, a few years later it is overthrown in a revolution that unifies the country.

While a Sunni victory may or may not unify Iraq, as Vietnam was unified, it does prove my point. The detritus of US imperialism is more death, more division, more horror for innocent civilians and little stability for the civilian population who merely want to live their lives without fear and refugee displacement.

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D-Day Follies: War Crimes, and Arrogance

There is very little to celebrate on the seventieth anniversary of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944 as soldiers entered France by crossing the English Channel. First of all, it was a relatively minor event in World War II. Aside from the fact the war was an unjust war in any reasonable interpretation of proportionality and discrimination, the D-Day invasion was a sideshow.

It was the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin and the communist party that deserves the credit for the defeat of Hitler’s Germany during the war. It was Russia that lost half the casualties of the war-twenty-five to thirty million casualties–and that defeated the Wehrmacht and drove it out of Eastern Europe to the Führer’s bunker in Berlin. For years Stalin wanted the allies to launch an invasion of France to relieve some of the burdens of the Red Army as it was waging the most deadly battle in the history of the human race. Yet Churchill, an egregious amoral figure who supported strategic bombing of babies, young children and the disabled, constantly delayed the Second Front as Russian youth died needlessly from the withering tanks and hand to hand combat with the Wehrmacht.

For those who define D-Day as the turning point in the war, do not know about the war. They do not know about Stalingrad and the heroic sacrifice of communist Russia that led to the victory-if there is one on May 8-over Germany. It was not America, Britain or Canada that merits the credit for the outcome of the war but Russia. Their Great Patriotic War was the main event of the European war: not Italy or North Africa.

Also let us not forget that the United States dropped two atomic bombs over a defeated, defenceless and non-nuclear Japan in the Pacific War. It was an act of genocide that Hitler is usually solely “credited” with. The Greatest Generation committed acts of genocide both in Japan and, yes, in Germany with murderous, barbarous, vicious bombing of innocent, non-combatants in Geman cities. Dresden, Leipzig, Berlin, Koln are a few of the cities in Germany in which 100,000s of innocent lives were taken. World War II is nothing to celebrate but to mourn. It was the most dysfunctional moment in the history of modern civilisation. It was a war without mercy; it was a war of multiple holocausts both in Germany, Japan, and in Poland. The  Shoa was one holocaust, there were so many others and Americans have blood on their hands as did the Germans.

D-Day is not to be wasted in arrogant, xenophobic, nationalistic reflection on the “Good War” but to reflect on the barbarity of war and the criminal role the United States has and continues to play in dragging down global civilisation into the evil of war, combat and mass murder. Shame on the US and other nations who wage war. There is no just war. Maybe a just cause but war itself eliminates any justification in terms of means.

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US Hypocrisy over Tiananmen Square: Kent State Forgotten

America’s Tiananmen: How many American even know about this butchery of these students on their own campus by the United States military? The US and its “liberal” press are making hay over the 25th anniversary of the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square protest in Beijing: the protests were ostensibly for greater liberty and human rights in the sole remaining communist superpower in the world today.

 John Filo, a Pulitzer Prize winning student photographer, with Jeffrey Miller killed at Kent State University, Ohio and Mary Ann Vecchio, a runaway kneeling near the corpse.

Let’s revisit our own Tiananmen, the Kent State University slaughter on May 4, 1970. It was a massacre of students demonstrating against President Richard Nixon’s criminal invasion of Cambodia and a demand that the Nixon plan for ending the war–Vietnamisation–stop the bombing, the expansion of the conflict and the use of napalm, Agent Orange defoliant and OTHER weapons of mass destruction. The People’s Republic of China has no comparable record of external aggression that can remotely compare to the United States. Yet there has not been a truth commission or public remembrance of Kent State that can rival the current  new cold war-charade about Tiananmen Square.

Note those who died in Tiananmen Square should not have been killed. The P.R.C. is a harsh, centralised government. There is a need for greater openness and democracy in that country. No one is dismissing the events that day in which scores were killed, but demanding the world’s leading terrorist state, a state actor known as the United States, stop the arrogant posturing of ethical and moral superiority.

                                                                Dean Kahler was wounded and paralyzed by M-1 wielding murderers in the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University. Kovic was the subject of Oliver Stone’s, Born on the Fourth of July starring Tom Cruise. Kovic, a marine, was paralysed in Nam.

The tanks at Tiananmen and the M-1 evil rifles fired at Kent State are equally odious and yet we fail to remember our own crimes against human rights and antiwar advocates in this country. We are so enamoured with American exceptionalism that the killing of unarmed students by the armed  Ohio National Guard is ignored. There was no twentieth, or twenty-fifth or thirtieth or even fortieth national self-examination of that grisly murder from the cowards in uniform on Blanket Hill. They shot point black into a group of peaceful students who had protested Nixon’s invasion–only in America was it called an “incursion”– and murdered four of them and wounded several critically.

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Kirstein Review of Robert Samuels, Why Public Education Should be Free in Logos

Review: Why Public Higher Education Should be Free: How to Decrease Cost and Increase Quality At American Universities, by Robert Samuels

Higher education is in a state of crisis. The mania affecting the academy is profit, slashing the price of labour, increasing class size, destroying the tenure system with full-time non-tenure track and adjunct-proletarian labour, and increasing the power and size of the administration-ruling class. Student tuition always increases even during prolonged economic stagnation. Student debt skyrockets as millions begin their occupational lives underwater in debt. Athletic programs drive the agenda with million-dollar babies as coaches and athletic directors while 34,000 with earned Ph.D.s are on food stamps to supplement subsistence wages.[1]

Online courses and for-profit universities, although non-profits are becoming indistinguishable from for-profits, waltz through accreditation reviews despite their e-everything approach to higher education. While student-centered patois dominate websites and slick institutional advancement images, the reality is different. Robert Samuels serves as president of the University Council–American Federation of Teachers within the University of California system. In Why Public Education Should Be Free: How to Decrease Costs and Increase Quality at American Universities, he attempts with some success to describe and provide policy recommendations to reestablish undergraduate-student learning as the primary objective of postsecondary education in the United States.

His thesis is that elite-research universities dump large numbers of vulnerable undergraduates into large-lecture classes that fail to educate. Students learn nothing. They take standardized multiple-choice exams, rarely interact with professors, and learn not to learn but merely to score well on inane tests that provide no feedback on writing or critical thinking. There is a lack of intellectual stimulation or engagement between instructor and student. The large-lecture classroom, however, is a cash cow generating huge profits for the corporate university with the majority of teachers serving conveniently as exploited labour who are either contingent non-tenure track or graduate students. As tuition rises, increase revenue goes to star-faculty trophies, stadiums for alumni to drink beer and cheer on non-salaried athletes, and the expanding bureaucracy of ineffectual administrators. Shared governance and academic freedom are eviscerated with 70% of all faculty appointments off the tenure stream. The goal is profit for the few with the majority from students to instructors in economic turmoil.

Samuels is appropriately concerned about undergraduate instruction although he focuses almost exclusively on research universities within the ten-campus University of California (UC) system. His call for a transformation in teaching does resonate beyond the coast: replace oppressed graduate-student lecturers and part-time teachers with more tenure-track positions. Cease producing unemployable graduate students with terminal degrees whose job prospects are bleak because of corporate academe’s replacement of tenured faculty upon resignation, retirement or termination with graduate and non-tenure track faculty. Yet several of Samuels’s otherwise constructive recommendations reveal an authoritarian approach to higher ed that contravene his stated agenda of returning to a student-centered, faculty-centered university where quality education with academic freedom and shared governance is restored as the true mission of the university. It is a contradiction.

He recommends for example that the federal government mandate that full-time faculty teach most undergraduate courses. While certainly a desirable goal, the precedent of the federal government dictating to universities who should teach their classes is untenable in a democratic society. The very sovereignty of a university as a self-governing polis would be destroyed if a central government could exercise such unwarranted influence in staffing and assigning faculty courses in this manner.

Samuels avers that the Rate My Professor website is a good source in studying student criticism of the contemporary university. The website is frequently visited by students or even non-students who have not taken a class that is being rated and by professors who serially self-evaluate for purposes of promotion, reputation, and garnering adequate enrollments to keep their careers alive. Even the author concedes Rate My Professor attracts “disgruntled students.” What is astonishing is that this inane instructor-rating website is considered viable for measuring the pulse of student discontent when one can examine non-compromised student evaluations produced over a period of time for an instructor or the professoriate within an institution.

In his book, Samuels advocates the videotaping of every university class because he claims student evaluations and occasional peer-review visitation are insufficient in the assessment of teaching. He cites a Harvard plan to videotape “many of its professors” to improve teaching but expands that idea with a call for comprehensive taping of all courses. While videotaping a class to improve teacher performance is unexceptionable, the author does not specify who would study the film of all these classes and determine an instructor’s quality of teaching. He merely states that “experts [should] examine the quality of education.”[2] Beware of the “expert” if there is such a thing in evaluating teaching quality and leave the peer-review, student-evaluation system alone. We don’t need another class of “experts” examining all the classes taught in America! Teachers are not the problem but their lack of academic freedom, large-class sizes, job insecurity and deteriorating morale across academia are. One wonders what the impact of such universalized videotaping would have on the spontaneity and free-flow of ideas in the classroom. Privacy is sometimes indicated for professors who are concerned about the lack of academic freedom and an Orwellian desire to root out real teaching that challenges the status quo.

Samuels is accurate in describing many students as passive note takers who avoid engaging an instructor because of class-size, an emphasis on rote learning, and insipid instruction. Yet the author’s fondness for autocratic solutions exacerbates the problem. He assigns an F grade to any student “caught” using a computer in class for purposes other than note taking: “[I]f they surfed the web during class, I would be sent a message, and they would fail the course.”[3] Students are adults; they pay our salaries or most of us who teach at tuition-driven institutions. Their attention during class needs to be earned not coerced; if students wish to surf the web that is their business if not disruptive as a cell phone ringing or talking to another student. The objective is to improve teaching and the search for the truth, not threaten students with zero credit for a course who may respond to an emergency text message or even look up a word or concept to understand better a lecturer who rarely accepts questions from students during class.

The mania of achieving high rankings in national surveys is another example of higher education’s drift from teaching to image polishing. Universities have become marketing engines with public-relations experts that must score well on US News & World Report’s annual ratings of colleges and universities. Presidents, provosts, and heads of admissions are solicited for reputation scores but not faculty or students. Universities submit their own data that heavily impact rankings. Yet unsurprisingly these academic beauty contests do not measure student outcomes or the quality of teaching but application acceptance rates, average incoming ACT scores, faculty-student ratios and class size. Many research universities disingenuously low ball average class size by including within their faculty count researchers and tenured faculty who do not teach undergraduates in order to conceal the bloated size of their classes.

While instructors in an assessment-crazed standardized environment are increasingly teaching to the test, postsecondary institutions in order to achieve a high US News & World Report score, will game the system and deliberately encourage a surfeit of student applicants in order to reject as many as they can to achieve “elite” selectivity status. Yet the author posits another authoritarian solution that is frankly inane. Samuels’s remedy to this scam that he correctly identifies is, however, federal investigatory oversight of university-submitted statistics in US News & World Report  “books” (sic). Let the Feds determine the “accuracy and value” of the data![4] It is one thing for secondary-education teachers and administrators to cheat on test scores to preserve funding and job viability. It is quite another for universities to cook the books for marketing purposes. George Washington University was caught in the act and US News & World Report dropped them from the rankings for a year. Self-policing beyond the reach of governmental surveillance is the only acceptable alternative. To suggest government oversight of a magazine’s data of ranking universities is beyond absurd: it is dangerous with significant freedom of the press and the separation between government and university sovereignty implications.

The book’s sources are primarily studies, commissions, and reports within or about the UC system. Samuels’s independent research is limited to informal discussions, conversations, and anecdotal comments from his students. Although the book is titled, Why Public Education Should Be Free, this important and worthy policy recommendation does not even appear until the penultimate ninth chapter. Titles that suggest the sweep of a work are preferable to those that merely describe a small segment of a study. Nevertheless, Samuels’s strongest and most original writing is his impressive recommendation that the United States emulate Finland’s core “principal that every student should be given an equal opportunity to learn.”[5]

In The Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels envisioned a transitional period between dying capitalism and emergent communism. This socialist or Dictatorship of the Proletariat stage is transitional. It establishes through robust centralized means a new order that ultimately transforms the mind of the society and renders governmental activity obsolete that withers away. One of the Manifesto’s goals is, “Free education for all children in public schools…Combination of education with industrial production.”  This appeared 166 years ago within this illustrious masterpiece of liberation. Marx wrote the final draft and was well aware that an equalization of conditions was dependent in part upon open access to education. Chattel labour without education was perpetual wage slavery and a proletarian death sentence. While ostensibly limited to secondary education, the principle remains: the state should ensure continuous education for all its citizens in order to afford upward mobility and greater social equality. Finland, which is often cited as an exemplar in Samuels’s work, guarantees free access to education from kindergarten through college.

Samuels argues that the current system favours the rich with tuition tax shelters and 529 college-savings plans. They should be eliminated along with tuition, financial aid grants and loans with its attendant legions of administrators, bankers, and other bureaucrats. He estimates $128 billion would cover free public education for students at community colleges and public universities. Using 2010 data, there were $35 billion in Pell Grants, $104 billion in student loans, and $86 billion of state funding of higher education. Remove these costs would more than compensate for direct federal funding of public higher education in the United States. Whether his data works as neatly as presented is beside the point. It is sensible and clearly within the affordable range given the $600 billion wasted on the Department of Defense with its monstrous wars: overt and secret across the globe! Of course the United States spends more in “defending” its sham democracy from the latest imagined enemy than it does in establishing real democracy at home. Similarly, universities spend vast sums of money on stadiums, far-flung campus satellites, and swarms of administrators who supervise other administrators with comparatively little left for the instructional needs of their students.

The often cited Jeffersonian advocacy for free public education appears in this work. Thomas Jefferson purportedly supported free public education because it would guarantee true democracy: “it is safer to have the whole people respectably enlightened than a few in a high state of science and the many in ignorance.”[6] Yet is anyone including Robert Samuels struck by the fact that Jefferson held legally mandated, uneducated Africans in bondage throughout his adult life including his eight years as president (1801-1809)? Jefferson’s wealth and power were derived from enslaved persons who were prohibited upon pain including possible torture from reading, writing, and receiving a formal education.

The genre of higher-education critique with its relentless emphasis on data, trends, and elite foundation funded reports can be quite prosaic. Nevertheless, Samuels offers a lively provocative work that is recommended for readers seeking primarily a cogent synthesis rather than an original study of the decline of American higher education. While perhaps most useful for professors in the rarefied air of the UC or research-university domain, there is broader relevance. While this work is not essential reading, most books are not, it illuminates the decline of quality across the corporate, venal world of higher education.

Notes

[1] Claire Goldstene. “The Emergent Academic Proletariat and Its Shortchanged Student”, Dissent, August 2013.

[2] Robert Samuels. Why Public Education Should Be Free: How to Decrease Costs and Increase Quality at American Universities, (Rutgers University Press: 2013), 135.

[3] Ibid., 102.

[4] Ibid., 125.

[5] Ibid., 132.

[6] Ibid., 120.

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Students Locked in Academic Freedom Struggle at Chicago State University

Chicago State University student leaders file suit against CSU and top university
officials following egregious attempts by the CSU administration to suppress
student speech.

CSU President Wayne Watson and his administration have repeatedly used state resources to attempt to silence students who speak out against alleged corruption and autocratic university practices. But students are fighting back. On May 12, 2014, Brittany Bailey and Willie Preston, who have served in the CSU student government and spoken out repeatedly against President Watson and his administration, filed a federal lawsuit alleging violations of their constitutional rights to free speech and due process,
violations of the Illinois State Officials and Employees Ethics Act Claim and other state claims.

The suit alleges that CSU, President Wayne Watson, Interim Provost Angela Henderson, General Counsel Patrick Cage, Director of Student Activities Matoya Marsh and CSU Chief of Police Ronnie Watson orchestrated a malicious plan to silence and marginalize Willie, Brittany and other students who openly criticized them and asked inconvenient questions about the university budget. These steps included interfering with student democratic self-governance, voiding elections the students rightfully won, bringing
baseless disciplinary allegations against them, obtaining false testimony through coercion, repeatedly ordering their arrest, labeling Willie as an “American Terrorist” after he spoke out against Provost Henderson in a meeting of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, and expelling Willie from the university.

In his desperate attempt to retain control of Chicago State University, President Wayne
Watson treated Chicago State University, a publicly funded institution, like his personal fiefdom. In his  latest repressive measure, President Watson and Chief Watson ordered the arrest and detention of student leader Jokari Miller because he refused to remove a hat which bore the logo of Northern Illinois University and which symbolized his opposition to the administration’s practices.

When Mr. Miller spoke out against President Watson’s attempts to silence him, CSU police violently arrested him, causing injuries that led to his hospitalization. Willie and Brittany hope that in bringing this lawsuit, they will prevent similar repressive measures against other students and help stem a mass exodus of the CSU student body, which has experienced a decline in enrollment of about 25% in recent years. Willie and
Brittany seek to hold accountable a group of politically connected, powerful officials who used the authority entrusted by the people of Illinois to snuff out the aspirations of students who had the courage to openly oppose them. Willie and Brittany’s case is pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and has been assigned to the Honorable Joan B. Gottschall.

Contacts: Plaintiffs’ Attorneys, Yusra Gomaa and Rima Kapitan, 312-566-9590, rima@kapitanlaw.net

Plaintiffs Willie Preston and Brittany Bailey, (While the press release included students’ numbers, this blog suppresses such information.)

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Petition to Attenuate N.A.T.O. Enlargement and Imperialism in Russia and Ukraine

SIGN to say U.S. Hands Off Russia and the Ukraine!
Please send email messages to President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Kerry, Senator McCain, Secretary-General Ban, Congress and the media saying: U.S. HANDS OFF RUSSIA AND THE UKRAINE! 

Please send email messages to President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Kerry, Senator McCain, Secretary-General Ban, Congress and the media saying: U.S. HANDS OFF RUSSIA AND THE UKRAINE! 

SIGN the online petition at http://www.iacenter.org/ukrainepetition

TEXT of Petition:

TO: President Obama, Senator McCain, Secretary Kerry, Secretary-General Ban, Members of Congress, and Members of the Media:

The overwhelming majority of the population of the U.S. is against being dragged into another disastrous war. Nothing is more dangerous than the aggressive U.S./NATO troop movements right on the borders of Russia.

Sending U.S. destroyers into the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea; scheduling threatening U.S./NATO war games and troop movements in East Europe; and imposing sanctions on the Russian Federation is a threat to peace on a world scale. We have seen the cost of past and continuing U.S. wars, which enrich the military corporations while impoverishing the targeted countries as well as poor and working people here in the U.S.

The years of U.S. funding of fascist forces in Ukraine and the recognition of a government in Kiev that overthrew the elected government, seized power and appointed extreme right-wing groups to head the police, army and national guard in order to pull Ukraine into NATO membership makes the U.S. complicit in the complete denial of the rights of the Ukrainian people. It is also a provocation against the entire region.

People in East and South Ukraine, outraged by this coup government, have attempted to resist the illegal junta, have declared an independent People’s Republic of Donetsk, and have called for referendums. In response, the right-wing coup government has allowed its military forces and other fascists to terrorize the Ukrainian people. In the most recent incident, some 40 people were massacred in the city of Odessa on May 2 by fascist militants, loyal to the Kiev government, who set the Trades Union Building on fire. In addition, 23 people were killed at Slavyansk and in Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region in attacks by Ukrainian military forces from May 2-3.

Despite mass desertions by Ukrainian police and military personnel, so-called “anti-terrorist” campaigns against activists in southeastern Ukraine were launched immediately after visits to Kiev by U.S. officials. Washington has spent $5 billion to effect “regime change” in Ukraine, helping to bring into power a junta dominated by fascist, racist, anti-Semitic organizations like Svoboda, Fatherland and Right Sector. Meanwhile, the U.S. has pledged up to $10 billion in loans to the illegal coup regime, and Washington has been instrumental in securing a $17 billion aid and austerity package from the International Monetary Fund.

This massive U.S. intervention in the Ukraine and ever-increasing campaign to surround and isolate Russia must end. I therefore demand:

1.            That the U.S. government and all its public, secret, official and unofficial agencies immediately cease all forms of intervention in Ukraine, including ceasing all material and political aid to fascist and right-wing organizations within the country;

2.            That all sanctions and threats of sanctions against the Russian Federation be dropped — sanctions are an act of war;

3.            That U.S. military forces immediately be withdrawn from the Eastern European region and that NATO’s expansion and provocative actions against Russia be ended.

 


Dear friends,

In the past few days a further dangerous escalation has taken place in Ukraine. While President Obama met with German Chancellor Merkel in Washington to further U.S.-NATO threats against Russia, a massacre took place in Ukraine’s third largest city, Odessa.

Neo-Nazis attacked an encampment of protesters opposed to the illegal coup regime in Kiev. Outnumbered and facing hardened goons hurling Molotov cocktails, the activists fled and were given refuge by union workers in the nearby Trade Union Building. The neo-Nazis then firebombed the building, killing some 40 people who were trapped inside. Survivors, some of whom jumped from high windows, were beaten or killed as they tried to escape.

Meanwhile, in the southeastern region of Donetsk, where the popular anti-fascist movement has seized government buildings and declared an independent People’s Republic, Ukraine military forces loyal to Kiev attacked checkpoints on the outskirts of Slavyansk, killing at least 13 unarmed activists. Overnight May 2-3, the National Guard (which includes many fascist gang members in uniform) attacked the city of Kramatorsk, killing 10 anti-fascists.

The U.S. government, Wall Street and the corporate media have turned events upside down. They blame Russia and the anti-fascist protesters as the source of the crisis. But it was the United States that, by the admission of Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, spent more than $5 billion to bring about “regime change” in Ukraine in its campaign to encircle and suffocate Russia. U.S. officials from both the Democratic and Republican parties were deeply involved in the coup that brought to power outright fascist elements like Svoboda, Fatherland and the Right Sector. And it is the U.S. that is carrying out a provocative military buildup in Eastern Europe.

We urge you to take the following actions:

  1. SIGN the online petition to President Obama, Senator McCain, the media and Congressional representatives. Please forward widely to your contacts.
  2. Prepare to take emergency action in your area. In the event of a further escalation of the crisis, we will call for united nationwide actions, including local protests, vigils, teach-ins and visits to representatives’ offices.
  3. Come to the May 10 Teach-In at Riverside Church in New York City to learn more and find out about future actions. If you are unable to attend or live outside the New York area, you can watch a livestream of the meeting at CPRmetro.org.
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