Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Lee Kaplan,Rashid Khalidi, Land Confiscation, ...

1) This is an article about Lee Kaplan, the fellow who
misquoted me for an article entitled "Scholars for
Terror" on www.frontpagemag.com after the Middle East
Studies Association (MESA) Conference in San Francisco
last November:

http://santacruz.indymedia.org/feature/display/13401/index.php

Santa Cruz Community Television is offering up more
than the usual community dish. Recently, Club Cruz, a
locally produced television show, has been used as a
platform for virtual infomercials for an extremist
group with a record of harassing peace advocates.

The show, produced by Santa Cruz resident Becky
Johnson, has featured on several occasions a man named
Lee Kaplan, self-proclaimed founder and
director of the extreme Zionist group, Dafka. During
the episodes, Kaplan dominated the half-hour shows
with inaccuracies about the Palestinian peace
movement, negative stereotypes about Arabs and
Islam, and potentially slanderous statements about
widely respected groups such as Santa Cruz's Resource
Center for Nonviolence and Berkely's MidEast
Children's Alliance and individuals involved with
them. Intermittently throughout the show, addresses of
Kaplan's websites appeared across the screen and
Kaplan invited viewers to visit the websites; he also
promoted a book that was for sale on one of the
websites. Each episode also featured a disgruntled
Arab guest who shared negative opinions about
Palestinians and Arabs from a presumed "insider's"
perspective. (One questions the authenticity of such
guests, however, since Kaplan brags on his website
about disguising himself and passing himself off as an
Arab at various peaceful gatherings.)

Ron Holman, Programming Director at Community
Television, said that even though some people may
disagree with statements Kaplan makes, he is able
to appear on their channels via their rules which set
up the community stations as resource centers for the
public as opposed to a television network model.
Holman noted that an individual's speech could be
limited if he was inciting violence.

Though Kaplan didn't directly call for violence in the
episodes, a little fact checking showed that groups he
is associated with have been busy hijacking and
illegally intruding on peaceful meetings, harassing
peace activists and making at least one death threat.

- October 5, 2003. After participating in a debate
at UC Berkeley on Middle East relations, activist
Allison Weir received a death threat from an
individual identifying himself with Dafka.

-December 3, 2003. DAFKA follows and harasses
traveling peace exhibition, Wheels of Justice;
coordinates harassment campaign via internet site.

-June 5, 2004. Progressive Jewish Bay Area Peace
Demonstration Harassed by Anti-Palestinian Groups.

-November 19, 2004. Code Pink Hayward meeting at
local church hijacked by hate groups Dafka and Protest
Warrior; verbal abuse and physical intimidation used
against female peace activists.

In his website, http://www.dafka.org, Kaplan describes
himself as chief editor, "investigative journalist,
news bureau head, businessman and political activist."
In other media, however, he is listed with
other titles, including "Contributing Editor" for
David Horowitz's http://www.frontpagemag.com
website and West Coast Coordinator" of Students for
Academic Freedom. A post by someone identifying
himself as Lee Kaplan on santacruzindymedia.org stated
"I do make a living doing research about the
Middle East and am a professional journalist. People
do drop a dime to read me....I have appeared
internationally on radio as a commentator." However,
an extensive and exhaustive search yielded no
information that could confirm Kaplan's location,
background, education, research and type of business.
In addition, there no evidence was found that he had
been published in print, as he insinuated.

Kaplan appears to be involved in a network of
pro-militancy, pro-Israeli international public
relations agents who advocate, among other things,
for Israel to seize all lands held 2000 years ago and
mandatory military or civil service for all residents
of Israel . He's also busy generating propaganda for a
consortium of conservative websites with the aim of
discrediting peace groups, activists, librarians and
academics; recruiting college students in the Bay Area
and Santa Cruz for his anti-Palestinian
Peace Movement and academic censorship groups; and
shaping U.S. policy on education through SAF and its
associated groups.

What Does All of This Mean?

On a website found in Dafka's Links section, Bernard
Shapiro, head of the "Freeman Center for Strategic
Studies," describes a scheme for a worldwide public
relations campaign with the ultimate aim of protecting
the over six billion dollars Israel annually receives
from the United States.

"I think it is time to take a second look at my
concept but expand it to include radio, magazines,
cable television (cable will accept this type
of commercial) and newspapers. The ads should range
from the very soft evocative travel type to some hard
hitting but subtle political messages. Pretend that
Israel is a corporation with a vast market in the
United States. Receipts from that market top $6
Billion Dollars (including US economic and military
aid, UJA, Israel Bonds, JNF, plus all the other
campaigns from Yeshivas to the Technion). What would
you spend to protect a market of that magnitude? One
half of one percent would equal $30 million. You can
run for president with thirty million dollars. In a
wild fantasy, lets say we have that much money. And
let's say we hire a talented creative ad man to
develop a multi-faceted, multi-media, and multi-year
campaign to win the hearts and minds of the American
people."

Kaplan is a regular contributor to the Freeman
website.

Like the "frontpagemag" operation, Students for
Academic Freedom is one of several organizations under
the leadership umbrella of David Horowitz SAF
doesn't actually promote "freedom" as much as
encouraging students to turn in their teachers for
saying things they don't like or giving them grades
they don't want. If this seems eerily similar to
approaches used by fascist campaigns throughout the
world, that's because it is. This website includes
organizing tools, blank complaint forms for students
to pass out and an "Academic Bill of Rights," which
amounts to a plan for academic censorship. It also has
a "National and State Legislation" section (on the
left scroll-down menu) and files on teachers
nationwide they deem to be "too liberal." The homepage
even includes an insult aimed the target
audience --- a graphic of the "hear-no-evil,
see-no-evil, speak-no-evil" monkeys, traditionally a
representation of people who want to ignore reality.

Kaplan has not been content to simply recruit for
members in our community; he has also used his
platform to attack local politicians and activists who
advocate for peace. Scott Kennedy, outgoing Santa Cruz
mayor who signed the trailblazing City of Santa Cruz's
proclamation against the Iraq War, is one person
Kaplan targeted for attacks on his website.
Referring to the Resource Center for Nonviolence and
Kennedy, Kaplan writes,

"..the ultimate in gall is that Scott likes to
invoke the teachings of non-violence and tolerance of
Martin Luther King. Would that Dr. King was still
alive, he'd probably abandon non-violence for a moment
and chuck ol' Scott upside the head. ....It is high
time the Santa Cruz community recognize the hypocrisy
of a center that is really a mouthpiece for Arab
anti-Semitism and violence against Jews in the
Middle East. Scott is an elected City Councilman
there. When his term is up, I'm sure the majority of
people who reside in Santa Cruz will turn him out.
Perhaps this commentary can inform enough of them to
do so."

With this veiled threat by Kaplan, one is left to
wonder whether or not his remarks about Kennedy had
any influence on his recent defeat in the City Council
race.

The Dafka website, which roughly translated means, "In
your face!" in Hebrew, has an editorial voice much
like Kaplan's and Horowitz's other projects. They
vociferously attack any organization or individual
that dares question the United States' and Israel's
policies. Kaplan and Horowitz prefer to use semantic
attacks against those they seek to silence with
meaningless phrases meant to squelch all forms of
discussion. An example of such a phrase is "stand with
Israel." Although the phrase conjures up a strong
images of loyalty, what does it really mean? It
insinuates, much like the phrase "support our troops,"
that if someone doesn't go along with what the author
is advocating, then he somehow does not "stand with
Israel," or does not "support our troops." Whenever
someone challenges something Kaplan or Horowitz says,
their stock reply is "Anti-Semitism!" This couldn't be
more ridiculous since they save their most vicious
attacks for other Jews involved in the peace process
and for Arabs, who are also by definition a Semitic
people.

Lee Kaplan, like anyone else, has his right to free
speech. What seems to be less clear, especially in the
way Community Television is run, is how people are
accountable for what they broadcast. As it
stands now, only a producer can allow people access to
past episodes of Club Cruz. One has to question if
that makes an entity responsible for the content of
their broadcasts, especially when, in the case of
former mayor Scott Kennedy, Club Cruz broadcasts occur
during City Council meetings.

Clearly, Lee Kaplan and his associates have an agenda:
attack and discredit any entity that might lead to a
slowing of money flowing into Israel. Judging by their
slick websites and the many public relations experts
employed, it is also a well-funded one. When community
budgets are being slashed and local resources are
drying up, how fair is it to allow a non-Santa Cruz
County resident to broadcast his infomercials for free
at the community's expense? Under the current
structure of Community T.V., Becky Johnson, producer
of Club Cruz, is the only person accountable to the
public for the content of the show. She is listed
under Dafka's website as a member and UCSC coordinator
for Dafka; her email is listed as
becky_johnson@sbcglobal.net. An alternative email
address she listed on the Santa Cruz Indymedia site is
becky_johnson222@hotmail.com.

In many of the websites associated with Kaplan,
supporters are urged to inundate public officials,
regulatory agencies and the media with their messages.
Perhaps all those people Kaplan has been attacking
really do have something to learn from him.


2) Below is the letter ATFP sent Chancellor Joel Klein
of New York's Department of Education, concerning
the decision to bar Columbia University Professor
Rashid Khalidi from conducting any further teacher
training sessions on Middle Eastern culture and
politics.

The barring of Professor Khalidi followed an article
in the New York Sun on Professor Khalidi's "criticism
of Israel":

-------------------------------------

Joel L. Klein, Chancellor
New York City Department of Education
52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007

March 7, 2005

Dear Mr. Klein,

On behalf of the board of directors of the American
Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), I would like to
express our concern at the barring of Professor Rashid
Khalidi from conducting training programs for
secondary-school teachers.

Professor Khalidi is a respected and renowned scholar
and author who is an acknowledged authority on Middle
East history. He is widely recognized as such in the
academic community, and has earned accolades of
prominent national figures as well as members of all
communities beyond academia, including the
Jewish-American one. He has clear views on morality
and justice and always expresses his views with
clarity, precision and in a scholarly fashion. The
views or criticisms he expresses are well within the
parameters of scholarly discourse. Professor Khalidi
is not only a renowned scholar, but is also a
respected leader in the Arab-American community who
has been a strong and leading advocate of a negotiated
peace in the Middle East that addresses the national
rights of both Israelis and Palestinians to live in
security and peace.

To have those who disagree with his views succeed in
denying the public access to these views, flies in the
face of all principles on which this great country is
built and under which it has prospered and grown as
the world leader in free thought, expression and
debate. Simply put, the decision to bar him places
shackles on the free market of ideas and is a great
disservice to the educational system.

I urge you to seriously consider the ramifications of
the decision not only on the teachers who would have
benefited from this training, but also on the American
standard of free thought and expression. Academics
whose works open up controversy and discussion have
historically added to critical thought and in the
final analysis, the public should be the final judge
of the merit of their ideas.

Professor Khalidi deserves no less than this and as a
result I strongly urge that he be reinstated as part
of the teacher-training program on Middle Eastern
culture and politics.

Sincerely,

Ziad Asali, MD President

Cc: Lee Bollinger, Columbia University President


3) Here is an example of the sorts of issues people
are fighting for which draw the ire of Lee Kaplan and
those who have been attacking Rashid Khalidi (Excuse
the late posting, but I'm trolling stuff I missed in
the past couple of months):

http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,2763,1402261,00.html

Israelis use barrier and 55-year-old law to quietly
seize Palestinians' land

Chris McGreal in Bethlehem
Monday January 31, 2005
The Guardian

The Israeli government has quietly seized thousands of
acres of Palestinian-owned land in and around east
Jerusalem after a secret cabinet decision to use a
55-year-old law against Arabs separated from farms and
orchards by the vast "security barrier".
Most of the hundreds of Palestinian families whose
land has been confiscated without compensation have
not been formally notified that their property has
been transferred to the Israeli state. But plans have
already been drawn up to expand Jewish settlements on
to some of the expropriated territory.

The move has drawn stinging criticism from the
Palestinian leadership and some Israelis, who call it
"legalised theft" and say it is evidence that the vast
steel and concrete barrier under construction through
the West Bank and Jerusalem is less for security than
a move to expand Israel's borders.

"The government is walling in east Jerusalem for the
first time in six centuries," said Daniel Seidemann,
an Israeli lawyer fighting the seizures on behalf of
several Palestinian families.

"It is turning the eminently reversible step of a
barrier into an irreversible step by building
immovable homes. It is a move to assert aggressive
Israeli sovereignty over east Jerusalem."

Palestinian officials have warned that if the strategy
is not reversed it could prove an insurmountable
obstacle to a final peace agreement with Israel. The
Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of an
independent state.

The cabinet secretly decided to seize the land in July
last year using a law passed in 1950 allowing the
state to confiscate property abandoned by Arabs who
fled to neighbouring countries during Israel's
independence war.

Among those who have lost their land in the recent
seizures is Johnny Atik. His front room, in the
Bethlehem house he has lived in for 55 years, looks on
to the three hectares (eight acres) of olive groves
from which he is now officially deemed absent after
Israel built the "security fence" between his home and
his orchard.

"What is the law of absentees when we are here before
your eyes? We are not absent. The law is that any
Israeli with an American or European passport who goes
to live outside Israel is not considered absent. But
me, who lives here, is called absent," he said.

Boundaries


Immediately after occupying east Jerusalem in 1967,
Israel redrew the city's boundaries to run deep into
the West Bank. Swaths of land that had fallen within
the municipality of Arab towns such as Bethlehem -
including Mr Atik's - were suddenly defined as part of
"greater Jerusalem" and therefore within the borders
of the Jewish state. But the landowners were
classified as residents of the occupied territories
and therefore outside the country.

However, successive Israeli governments decided not to
apply the absentee property law to Jerusalem because
many Arabs who owned land within the area claimed by
Israel lived only a short distance away in other parts
of the West Bank.

But over the past two years, the invisible city
boundary that Mr Atik walked across to reach his land
each day was transformed into a border marked out in
concrete and steel.

In July, Mr Sharon's government decided to reverse the
absentee law policy on east Jerusalem, but the
cabinet's decision has only now become public after
the army told lawyers for some affected Palestinians.
The army had promised Mr Atik a permit to cross
through a military checkpoint to get to his olive
trees, but his lawyer, Mr Seidemann, spent a year
trying to get the pass out of the military.

"Eventually, I was told that the reason Johnny Atik
couldn't go to his land was that it was no longer his,
it belonged to the government," he said.

Another Bethlehem resident, Anton Salman, has lost
about 40 acres. "It began in 1996 with a small road
for the checkpoint. Then there is a bigger road, and
then a fence. And then you lose your land. It's all
done in the name of security but this is no way to
bring peace," he said.

Across the valley from Mr Atik's land is the Jewish
settlement of Har Homa. The clank of heavy machinery,
the scaffolding crisscrossing the front of half-built
flats, the cranes towering over the site all testify
to the rapid expansion of the settlement. The latest
Jerusalem municipal plan earmarks land for Har Homa's
expansion as far as Mr Atik's land.

Expansion

The West Bank town of Beit Jala, near the Jewish
settlement of Gilo, asked the Israeli government to
route the barrier so that residents could still reach
their land without passing through a checkpoint. The
authorities refused and the army now says that
everything on the Jerusalem side of the barrier -
about 1,000 acres, which provide an income for 200
families - has been seized.

Some of the land is already being levelled in
preparation for construction linked to a nearby Jewish
settlement.

The village of Walaja, which straddles the greater
Jerusalem border, is losing about 2,500 acres. An
Israeli development firm already claims to have bought
part of the land to build new homes for Jewish
settlers.

The state has also appropriated a once thriving hotel,
the Cliff, on the edge of east Jerusalem even though
the owners live nearby. When the army started building
the eight-metre-high concrete wall that bisects the
area, it seized the hotel for "security needs". But
under the regulations for constructing the barrier,
the government would have had to pay more than £1m in
compensation. Then the owners were told their hotel
had been confiscated under the absentee property law
without recompense.

The government declined to discuss the new application
of the absentee property law.

Since the signing of the Oslo accords a decade ago,
Israel has doubled the size of the Jewish settlements.
Many Palestinians suspect that the West Bank barrier
was just another means to grab territory.

"This is state theft," said the mayor of Bethlehem,
Hanna Nasser. "They are thieves and they are bluffing
everybody. It's not a security wall, it's the future
frontier of the state of Israel."


4) ADC Press Release:

ADC Appeals DHS Denial To Release Nationalities of
“October Plan”

March 3, 2005, Washington, DC—On November 4, 2004, US
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency
of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS),
issued a press release entitled “ICE Threat Disputes
Effort Results in More than 230 Arrests.” As a result,
and due to community concerns, the American-Arab
Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) requested a
nationality breakdown of those arrested by ICE. In an
earlier statement on September 30, 2004 ICE explained
that it utilized three databases (namely NSEERS,
SEVIS, and US VISIT) to reprioritize leads resulting
in the above-referenced arrests.

ADC was, and continues to be, concerned that the Arab,
South Asian, and Muslim populations were being
disproportionately impacted because of the use of the
NSEERS database in this enforcement effort termed by
the media as the “October Plan.” On December 14,
2004, ADC filed a Freedom of Information Act Request
(FOIA) in order to gain access to the nationality of
those arrested and determine the percentage of Arabs,
South Asians, and Muslims who were affected. ADC did
not request the names or individual information of any
of the persons who had been arrested. Furthermore, ADC
did not ask for any information
regarding DHS employees or any law enforcement
technique, sources, or procedures used by DHS
regarding the arrests.

ADC’s intent with the request was to assure the
Arab-American, South Asian, and Muslim communities,
along with the rest of our nation, that ICE was not
conducting a “round-up” or “sweep” in any community,
and that it was acting consistently with the pledge
made on September 30, 2004 not to partake in
racial, national origin or religious profiling.

Unfortunately, ICE and DHS have denied ADC’s request
to release the nationality breakdown of those arrested
during the “October Plan.” Today, ADC has filed an
administrative appeal with the Privacy Office at DHS.
ADC hopes that DHS will review this appeal in a timely
matter and make the correct decision to release the
nationality breakdown of the individuals arrested
during the “October Plan.”

To read ADC’s FOIA request of December 14, 2004, click
http://www.adc.org/Doc/ADCtoICE.doc

To read ADC’s FOIA appeal of March 3, 2005, click
http://www.adc.org/Doc/ADCtoFOIA.doc


5) This is a letter I wrote to Victoria's Secret
regarding their amazing ability to follow me around
the country with their catalogues. If you too are
being stalked by Victoria's Secret, L.L. Bean, or
other catalogues, then you'll understand my plight.
Use the link below to write your own letter. If
nothing else, this letter is clearly a sign that I
have too much time on my hands:

http://www.victoriasdirtysecret.net/action.php?action=2

Dear Ms. Secret:

I tried twice to stop having your catalogues sent to
my address last year. Each time I said I did not want
any more catalogues, that I was dissatisfied with the
one product I'd purchased from one of your outlet
stores, and that I am against receiving catalogues in
principle. Your colleague said that I would receive
no more, but they kept coming. Then, when I moved to
another state, your catalogue followed me!

Recently, I did what a friend suggested -- I wrote
"return to sender" on the catalogue and put it back in
a mailbox. It's too early to tell, but I'm optimistic
that that will persuade you to get off my back and
stop following me around.

Help! How do I cancel my unwanted "subscription"? I
only bought one thing once! Vickie, get out of my
life -- I'd rather have trees.

Thank you,
Nabil Al-Tikriti


6) This posting is demonstrative of the level of
debate raging in America's blogosphere concerning
US-Muslim relations:

Subject: Quick to Commit

Everyone seems to be wondering why Muslim terrorists
are so quick to commit suicide. Let's see now.

No Jesus, No Christmas. No television, No
cheerleaders, No baseball, No football, No hockey, No
golf, No tailgate parties, No Wal-Mart, No Home Depot,
No pork BBQ, No hot dogs, No burgers, No chocolate
chip cookies. No lobster, No shellfish, or even frozen
fish sticks, No gumbo, No jambalaya.

Rags for clothes and towels for hats.

Constant wailing from the guy next-door because he's
sick and there are no doctors.

Constant wailing from the guy in the tower.

More than one wife.

You can't shave.

Your wives can't shave.

You can't shower to wash off the smell of donkey
cooked over burning camel dung.

The women have to wear baggy dresses and veils at all
times.

Your bride is picked by someone else.

She smells just like your donkey.

But your donkey has a better disposition.

Then they tell you that when you die it all gets
better!

I mean, really, is there a mystery here?






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