Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lincoln Arabic Funder Names Center after al-Qaradawi, who calls for finishing Hitler's Agenda. Boston Students Dance to DAM's hate Speech. School Board: "yawn."


 

(Some of this is pasted from the earlier article.  New information in red.)

Portland, OR:  Concerned students and parents recently testified to the Portland Public School Board that a rap group called "DAM," that likens Israelis to Nazis was invited to perform at Lincoln High School.  Despite documentation of blatant hate speech toward Israelis, Jews, and Zionists, the Lincoln Arabic teacher and Principal persisted in allowing the group to perform.  The administration was unwilling to make a simple distinction between free speech and hate speech.

Growing numbers of school administrators and parents in the United States are willing to accept just a little anti-Semitic hate speech if it means hundreds of thousands of dollars for the rest of us.  


The Lincoln Arabic program is funded by the Qatar Foundation, which recently named a center after Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a man who announced on Al-Jazeera television that, 


"Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them...This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers."  
File:Qardawi.JPG

He later called for the killing of all Jews, "down to the very last one."  The center features a library of Qaradawi's works.




Arabic language teacher, Sarah Standish quoted several of the group's songs, to convince concerned parents that the group's lyrics were peaceful.  Standish explained in a letter to parents that, "DAM is critical of actions taken by the Israeli government; however, they do not criticize or insult Jewish people as a people."  She went on to assure them that DAM does not advocate violence.

However, Ms. Standish chose content of a very different nature for her students.

The DAM song she brought into the classroom is called, "I Have No Freedom."  It demonizes both Israel and the USA, framing a partnership between two liberal democracies like this:

"While the mother of the 51st state raises another state
They who have been raised at the expense of another are just like their mother"

Standish assured parents that DAM's lyrics are peaceful and respectful of Jewish people, but her classroom selection explains violence against Israel in these terms:

"We use power because of our weakness
We put up with death so that life will treat us kindly and not with oppression
We were born into this life
And when we found that we were not in control of it, we tried to take it by force"

The song concludes with a young girl reading a poem:

"We want an angry generation
To plow the horizon
To tear up history by its roots
To rip out thought from its depths
We want a new generation
That does not forgive for past mistakes"

In a class assignment, the Arabic language students at Lincoln High School chose this as one of their favorite songs.

Charlestown High School, in Boston, Massachusetts also has an Arabic language program funded by Qatar Foundation.  They hosted the rap group, as well.  Just in case there is any doubt regarding the mind-bending power of this content, consider that the Charlestown teachers have proudly posted video on YouTube of their students dancing to that exact song, quoted above.


Bob Horenstein of the Portland Jewish Federation explains, "When they bring in a group with this anti-Israel propaganda, there may be two or three students who find the group appealing, and look them up online.  It's indoctrination.  It is a message that slowly seeps in more and more, kids who are exposed to the falsehoods about Israel."


Standish gave her students the song in the form of a YouTube video.  These links act as a gateway to a world of hatred, glorification of guns, and of a systematic demonization of  Israelis, with the usual anti-Semitic comments.  Nearly every video YouTube recommended in conjunction with the videos given the Arabic students was full of imagery of masked men carrying guns.  One song alleges Hamas, a terror organization, is only fighting for the freedom of Palestinians.  "Victory is Ours," is repeatedly displayed, as are images of guns and the Palestinian flag.  No Context.  No explanation.  


The teacher, principal, and entire school board can't seem to find moral clarity on the issue, even with a student testifying to them that his mother is Israeli, and he can't understand why a group that likens her to a Nazi is performing for his peers.  Why would students be able to?


One student wrote, that those who opposed DAM in Portland, "added fuel to the fire."  He explained, "DAM's lyrics may include acts of violence towards Israel, but if you listen to the rap in America, isn't it the same but in many different settings?"  And regarding Qaradawi, and his wish to finish Hitler's agenda?  "That one man who is a racist and anti Semite is being funded by Qatar, but that doesn't mean the Qatar foundation is bad."


Mission accomplished, Portland Public Schools.  While they claim to create critical thinkers, this student emerges from the Arabic program excusing hate speech, and perceiving those who stand against such speech as the problem.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lincoln Teacher Gives Extreme Materials to Students, Benign Materials to Parents. School Board Remains Supportive

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Portland, Oregon:  Just days before a rap group called DAM that likens the State of Israel to the Nazis was scheduled to visit Lincoln High School, Arabic language teacher, Sarah Standish quoted several of the group's songs, to convince concerned parents that the group's lyrics were peaceful.  Standish explained in a letter to parents that, "DAM is critical of actions taken by the Israeli government; however, they do not criticize or insult Jewish people as a people."  She went on to assure them that DAM does not advocate violence.



However, Ms. Standish chose content of a very different nature for her students.

The DAM song she brought into the classroom is called, "I Have No Freedom."  It demonizes both Israel and the USA, framing a partnership between two liberal democracies like this:

"While the mother of the 51st state raises another state
They who have been raised at the expense of another are just like their mother"

DAM alleges it is Israel's flag, with the Star of David, the symbol of the Jewish people, that reminds them they are, "tied up."

Standish assured parents that DAM's lyrics are peaceful and respectful of Jewish people, but her classroom selection explains violence against Israel in these terms:

"We use power because of our weakness
We put up with death so that life will treat us kindly and not with oppression
We were born into this life
And when we found that we were not in control of it, we tried to take it by force"

The song concludes with a young girl reading a poem:

"We want an angry generation
To plow the horizon
To tear up history by its roots
To rip out thought from its depths
We want a new generation
That does not forgive for past mistakes"

In a class assignment, the Arabic language students at Lincoln High School chose this as one of their favorite songs.

Why DAM, of all the guests for Lincoln High?  Parents, students, and respected leaders in the community pleaded with the Lincoln administration not to allow DAM, with their insulting and violent lyrics, into the classroom.  The U.S. Department of State specifies, "drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis," as anti Semitism.  Hate speech such as this is strictly prohibited in Portland Public Schools' own policy, which states,  "No person shall be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise discriminated against under any program, including employment, on the basis of race, color, religious creed, sex, age, national origin, ancestry, marital status, sexual orientation, past/present history of mental disorder, learning disability and/or physical disability." [emphasis mine]

Yet, students at Lincoln, many who have family and friends who are Israeli, or who were persecuted by actual Nazis, had to endure a visit from a group of men who would liken their Israeli friends and family to the filthiest and most hurtful label possible.  The students would have to endure that while sitting among their peers, who know next to nothing of the truth about Israel.

Removal from context is key to successfully souring student opinion on Israel.

When addressing the School Board, one student explained that his father met his Israeli mother, while picking apples on an Israeli farm.  He explained to the Board that he was curious about DAM's performance, and searched for them on Google, "only to be shocked at what appeared on my computer screen:  Calling Israel the real terrorists, and comparing Israelis to Nazis.  I am half Israeli," he explained to the Board, who remain unmoved.

Lincoln student Emilie Cohen said after the DAM concert, "After trying over and over again to get my voice, as well as the voices of other parents and students heard only to be blocked at every turn, I feel completely defeated and devalued."

The manipulation did not stop with Standish's minimizing of her own classroom content in her letter to parents.

Cohen explains that, "At the panel discussion before DAM’s appearance...the audience members were given note-cards to write questions for the panelists to answer...I knew of a lot of people who wrote questions asking about the inappropriate lyrics but none of those questions were read to the panelists."

Another student testified to the Board that, "Before, DAM said they would not be rapping, but simply speaking about their Arabic culture.  They ended up rapping and giving kids a very negative view on Israel."

These students now have to look at photos of their own Principal, Peyton Chapman, whose job it is to protect them from such speech, smiling and flashing sideways peace signs with DAM.  In response to DAM's demonizing of Israelis as Nazis, Chapman inquired whether DAM should be judged for only one comment.

It is a comment they have not taken back, even when questioned about it at the event.

Is it conceivable that this would be the case had any other group been targeted in such a way in a public school?  Is it conceivable that a group alleging Mexicans were raping the American soul would be welcomed in the public schools, the way group alleging that Israelis are raping the Arab soul has been welcomed?

Chief of Staff Zeke Smith replied,
 "The Board Leadership believes the current freedom of expression policy and administrative directive provide effective parameters for school-based activities and events...We believe that the event was appropriate, and that necessary parameters to ensure the discussion remained appropriate were in place."

But Cohen, who must attend Lincoln High argues, "There is no excuse for the administration to allow a group like DAM who makes completely inaccurate comparisons like this to perform to very impressionable students. DAM can come, perform, and leave, but I, along with the other Jewish and Zionist students, are left to deal with the consequences of their performance, which could still result in bullying and hate speech."

Lincoln administrators and teachers have misrepresented their content to parents, and worked to minimize the legitimate concerns of students, in a mysteriously strident effort to bring a specific rap group into the classroom.  Because they clearly have a double standard regarding discussion about Israel, they have allowed students to be intimidated and silenced.

Unless the Board perceives the outcry from the community to outweigh the benefits of hosting such a group, they will remain unapologetic.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christians Must Stand with Jews in Portland to Oppose Hate Speech at Lincoln High

What Happened?

The lyrics of Palestinian hip-hop group, DAM, qualify as hate speech against Israel and Jews.  On November 4th, they performed by invitation at Lincoln High School.  Jewish students and parents alerted the Lincoln Principal and Administration to DAM's lyrics.  The administration persisted in allowing the group to perform, despite lyics like this:

"Your dream is that the minority become a majority in the graveyards
Democracy? I swear you’re Nazis
With all the times you raped the Arab spirit
It got pregnant and birthed a boy called the suicide bomber
And here you are calling us terrorists"

The Present Situation

I founded Portland State University Christians United for Israel for situations like this.  CUFI is nearly a million strong.  In an absence of Christians, this event and others are forced on students.  We can change that--  I am a student sitting at my kitchen table in a Portland suburb.  I need your help.

Please sign our Petition at www.pdxcufi.com and write a letter to the School Board.

The Lincoln administration and Portland Public School Board remains unresponsive and unapologetic.  The Jewish community, despite their persistence and courage, are being ignored.  This small selection of DAM's lyrics meet all definitional requirements of anti-Semitism:  deligitimization, demonization, and double standards.

We request that Portland Public Schools issue an official apology, and take necessary disciplinary actions, in accordance with their own policy:

"Portland Public Schools recognizes the diversity and worth of all individuals and groups and
their roles in society.  All individuals and groups shall be treated with fairness in all activities,
programs and operations, without regard to age, color, creed, disability, marital status, national
origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation."
Board of Education Policy 1.80.020-P

I wonder, would they invite white supremacists under the guise of free speech and discussion?  Of course not.  Would they listen if students expressed their understandable concern?  Of course.  We are asking that Jewish students and Christian Zionist students enjoy the same protections.  Open discourse about controversial issues is welcome and essential in public education.  It ceases to be discourse when a group demonizes and libels a particular group.

Today, the School Board remains unresponsive.  You, dear reader, are the difference.  Please take five minutes, and make an eternal impact for good.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What Makes a 16 hour Busride worth it?


The Bus to Dharamsala.

When I think of a word to describe the unique cocktail of fun and misery that is the Indian night bus, I will be sure and contact Webster’s. 

There are at least three ways Indian buses launch passengers from the back seat:  The first is the most common, signaled by two distinct noises;  The first is the suspension bottoming out, and the second is the heads of those in the extreme rear contacting the roof.  Guess where I was seated.  The next type of is produced by the bus moving over a natural dip in the road, gently flinging the slumbering traveler into space, depositing him safely in his seat.  Whether one enjoys the last type depends on whom is in the adjacent seat.  The motion is circular, with a surprise ending of one’s neighbor landing in his lap.  To my right was a lovely English woman, and to the left, a six-foot-three Australian man--  A nice guy when he isn’t landing on someone!  Did I mention I got no sleep?  Luckily the good company and conversation made the ride fun.  And how about that swerving?  Depending on which way we’re swerving I’m either face to face with a sleeping Australian or half smothered by the neck pillow of the lovely English woman.  I secretly pray the driver makes a hard right.  Another treat is the last-minute brake, in which (depending on how wide-open one’s mouth is while sleeping) one is treated to the complex flavors of ten-year-old Indian bus upholstery.  Yum!

Other fun flavors to try usually in potato chip form: “Masala Madness,” “Tomato Tango,” “Pudina Punch!!”  or my personal favorite, “Uncle Chipps’ Super Saver Spicy Treat!”

A word about the bus drivers.  The mental and physical exertion required of our driver, constantly avoiding other vehicles, animals, people, potholes, and more, all night, must not be dissimilar to a Formula One or Nascar driver.  Indian bus drivers deserve a spot next to Krishna, Shiva, or some other great Indian heroes.

Did I mention it was hot in Delhi?  Something like Hell with more humidity.  Finally, the bus begins to climb from the hot August plains and into the mountains of Himachal.  At night, everything outside is only a shadow, except the occasional brightly lit booth with a man surrounded by stacks of pink and blue, and purple and gold packaged snacks.  I was prepared for an exhausting trip, but all through the night my mind was running clean and crisp, finding great humor in discomfort, and reveling in the joy of anticipation of a new place, new friends, and maybe a little wisdom.  Dharamsala is a pretty hillside town and home to the Dalai Lama (which means “Ocean of Wisdom”), believed to be the 15th human incarnation of pure compassion, and the cultural, spiritual, and political leader of the Tibetan people (That’s all!).  The Tibetan government in exile is here, thus, Dharamsala has a unique swirl of gentle Tibetans, assertive Kashmiri merchants, Punjabi tourists (who consider me just as much a novelty as the monks in their maroon and marigold robes) and more.  


The Tibetans, unlike other cultures I so often go to gawk at, never seem to tire of our cameras, our questions, our clumsy meanderings among their most sacred places.  There is a real cohesiveness to their culture.  It’s easy to see how they managed to maintain their identity even amid the desecration of the Maoists, who destroyed over 6,000 of their holy sites in their attempt to destroy Tibetan identity-- Imagine an English conversation class in which the topic is, “Do you think Tibet will ever be free?”  Then imagine everyone still smiling and laughing-- that’s Tibetan resilience in a nutshell.  



One of my students’ answers was  “Yes, Tibet will be free, because truth is truth.  Some people don‘t know that Tibet has its own flag, language, religion, and culture.  China took over in 1959 and try to change history.  When the world knows the truth, Tibet will be free again.”  Whatever the secret is to genuine happiness, the Tibetans have it, and share it with us visitors with generosity and compassion, as we clumsily wander among them and their holy places.


Somehow, the hardship of the busride made me more full of faith, more enchanted with life and its journeys.  Is it because I know the discomfort will end soon and I will find rest in the hills?  Could I maintain this joy if my life were like this every day, like so many?  Could I be joyful if someone was asking me, “Do you think America will ever be free again?”  Whatever the answer, the ride comes to an end at the top of the hill, and we passengers step out into the mist of Dharamsala, rub our eyes, not saying much, but understanding, only now, how worth it the trip has been.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The First Week


Arriving at the Delhi airport I waited patiently as bag after bag circled around the carousel.  I became convinced my bag was not coming when the carousel stopped and everyone else left-- "Your bag is in Newark.  Don't worry, the woman at the "Baggage Enquiry" window said, "This happens every day."

Walking from the air conditioned airport into the heavy heat of New Delhi, my glasses immediately fogged over.  Nice metaphor.  I arranged for a driver to take me to the hotel, and I thought surely he would be gone- it took a couple hours to get the bag, em, "formalities" sorted out.  Go to this window.  Get a stamp.  Then go here.  No, not that stamp.  Almost done.  Now come back.  Stamp your foot three times.  How much is the contents of your bag worth?  You will have to pay duty.  Better to write under 8,000 rupees.  No, no, not "Under 8,000 rupees," write a number that is less than 8,000 rupees!

It was also a quick lesson in Indian "lines".  There are none.  I stood and waited patiently only to be usurped over and over again by the nicest looking people, who assumed that since I wasn't thrusting paperwork at someone or breathing in someone's face, that I must be standing around for the view.  (ok the lady behind the counter was cute).  The trick is to have a piece of paper or something in your hand.  Thrust it as far forward as possible and do whatever is necessary to get whatever person-with-power-to-make-your-life-easier to happily take it.  Two heads were in front of me.  I am not a pushy person.  I finally drew a deep breath, jammed my hand forward and...the lady took my paper!  The two heads didn't mind a bit and I made my first cultural discovery.  (that is, if you don't count the in-flight meal and its delicious "Dinner Epilogue", a small tea-bag sized packet of chewable seeds or herbs, containing, among other things, whatever makes Good 'n Plenty taste like Good 'n Plenty...a delicious treat indeed!)

Exiting the airport I thought, I am never going to see my bag again!  Oh look, a man holding a paper with my name on it.  Something went right!  We drove to the neighborhood where my hotel is-- just as soon as the cow moved out of the way.  Everyone says there is no way to prepare for the first few days in India.  Ha!  Amateurs!  I am a grizzled veteran of the open road.  I've seen stuff!  I've seen Big Ben, man!  As we drove, I could see why they may have been struck by the frantic driving, litter by the roadsides, people sleeping on the sidewalk in the night air without so much as a pillow.  Unfortunately, seen it many times.

Then we made a hard left into Pahar Ganj, which contains most of the backpacker hotels. Looks like my friends were on to something.  The place is like a pile of old gigantic books that people live in.  Everything is out on the mud street, lit by occasional light bulbs-- fruit, clothing, plastic machine guns, bicycle rickshaws, crooked signs pointing to this cafe, that hotel.  In the dark of night, only the outlines of people, a quick flash of a passing face, then another cow, nonchalantly chewing on a piece of cardboard.  Shortcut?  I hoped, also excited to have found a spot crazier than the last few shockers.  I followed the driver into a dark alley (always reassuring)  Come!  Come!  We walked by the light of a cell phone.  This does not seem too far from the experiences Western explorers must have had, following men with torches into mysterious worlds.  Oh God, this is it.  I am going to die!  Then we round a corner and enter a doorway containing a nice man who hands me a Coke and says, Ah, Mr. Logue, welcome to India (an experience early explorers probably didn't have)!

Family and worshippers at Jama Masjid
In the next days, I religion-hopped, escaping sweltering heat and humidity in the great churches, mosques, and temples of Delhi.  I began at the Baha'i Lotus Temple, which embraces all faiths; the familiar Christianity, Judaism and Islam, and the more mysterious (to me) Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism.  Is it possible to climb inside these ways of seeing things just for a minute?  Then I navigated tangled streets to the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India, took off my shoes and scampered across the hot (I mean hot!) red stone of the open square.  There I sat under billowing white linens, talking with some travelers after the Friday prayers.  After that, I ducked into a Sikh temple, the Gurdwara Bangla Sahib, and sat on plush carpets under fans that seemed to hover above like UFO's from the gilded ceiling.  Three men played music, one with a drum, another on keys, last on vocals, with faithful Sikhs circling around us, visiting the shrines inside the temple.  Sitting in front of the main shrine, a man with a white beard held a large fan, arcing it back and forth over his head.
Sikh Temple

Baha'i Lotus Temple


Back at the hotel, another strange apparition:  My bag!  I can shower!  Toothbrush!  Hello, dear Laptop Charger.  Clean Underwear!  Belt!  I've missed you all so much.  I think understanding the renunciation required in much of Eastern thought is going to take a little work!  The nice Coke-giving man in the hotel lobby quietly backed away, giving me a private moment with my dear Bag of Western Convenience.*

*trademark pending.  More to come!