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News :: Education : Human Rights : International
Zionist attempts at silencing failed in Andover, Massachusetts
10 Jan 2007
Modified: 12:38:48 AM
Last night was one of the most contentions events I’ve ever done. Whoever thought that a simple talk in the library of Andover High School in a small suburb of Massachusetts would make so many headlines.
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articles reposted from: http://lovinrevolution.org/beta/?q=node/36

Wheels of Justice prevailed and Zionist attempts as silencing failed in Andover, Massachusetts high school last Friday January 5, 2007.

As some of you know, the wheels of justice spoke at more than 200 high schools nationwide without incident. We were invited by social studies teachers from Andover, Mass high school to speak to their classes and were scheduled to speak on October 27, 2006. However, pressure from local Zionists led the school principal to cancel our appointment. The honorable teachers were indignant, and with the involvement of the local ACLU sued the school for interfering with their professional judgment as educators and for limiting free speech. The school principal and superintendent decided to reschedule our talk to Friday January 5, 2007. They also offered to pay the cost of transportation for our speakers. They hired a lawyer and held several meetings with representatives of ADL and other Zionist groups and to accomdate them as much as possible decided to.

1. Send a note to every parent to provide an opportunity for their kids to be excused from attending our supposedly subversive presentation, if they so desire. It is remarkable that not a single parent opted to excuse their child from attending.

2. Held school sessions, by outside consultants, one week before our presentation about the constitutional guarantees of free speech. (We were described as a pro Palestinian anti Israeli group!)

3. Assign two “neutral” adult observers from the community to attend every one of our class presentations. No other adults were allowed.

4. Invite two Zionist professors from Harvard University to speak to the students two weeks after our presentation to rebut our information.

5. In another concession, we were also asked to repeat our presentations in the evening in a public event at school so that everyone will know what we told the students (and of course for the Zionists to help plan their rebuttal). We happily agreed to all this.

Despite the above, the Zionists were not satisfied. They continued to complain and engage in a campaign of smearing the teachers and wheels of justice. They also threatened the day before the talk to file for a court injunction to prevent our talks. Much of that was covered by the local media including a front-page feature article the morning of our presentation. See the links below for media coverage. Note the one sided coverage of all the hoopla; none of the so-called journalists saw it fit to contact us and ask for our comments. Also, the ADL provided each student with packets of misinformation and talking points to “prepare” the students for our appearance.

All the media coverage and manufactured controversy backfired and helped us raise awareness of what is going here and in Palestine –Israel. The students were quite attentive and engaging. Some read questions and comments from the ADL prepared material, which we were only happy to clarify. Many of the students thanked us sincerely for the new information and were quite appreciative. I spoke about the Jews, Moslems and Christian people of conscience who are working together in Palestine –Israel and also on ICAHD work opposing house demolition and showed a 4 minutes video on resisting house demolition. The other presenters were noted Palestinian activist and author Mazin Qumsiyeh who introduced the concept of the wheels of Justice effort and provided a general overview of the situation in Israel-Palestine. Also presenting was, Joe Carr a young activist and Musician. Joe was an ISM volunteer who spent a lot of time in Palestine. He was demonstrating with Rachel Corrie when she was mercilessly killed by an Israeli bulldozer and was also next to Tom Hardel when he was shot by an Israeli sniper. Tom later died as a result of his injury. Joe Carr was also in Iraq as a volunteer for the Christian Peace Makers team. Joe’s report on the events in Andover is reproduced at the end. See also his web site lovinrevolution.org/beta/?q=node/36

>From our perspective, the evening public presentation was also a great success. More than 300 people attended including many parents and many others who do not normally attend peace and justice talks. There were also a great many supporters and a large contingent of Zionists. The Zionists wasted more of their time and money. They distributed handouts smearing the teacher’s leader and accusing him of anti-Semitism. They also distributed many papers full of the typical ADL misinformation (Israel a democracy, no apartheid, disputed not occupied, etc.) Inside the presentation they made complete idiots of themselves by heckling, shouting interrupting and then fought among themselves with some aiming to disrupt and others shouting that they needed to know what we presented to the students. Even the principal who strove to accommodate every one had to admonish them for not making a good example for the students and the irony that the students behaved a lot better than the adults. We finished all of our presentations but during the question and answer period the heckling continued and the principal decided to end the program. Many many people, including some students were so marvelous and so appreciative. Many stayed with the three us of for over an hour to express their gratitude, ask questions and apologize for the behavior of Zionist members of their community. We also received an invitation to speak again at a local church in the area which we are happy to schedule.

The heroes of the story are the high school teachers who stood their ground, were true to their principles and refused to be intimidated. The leadership of teacher Ron Francis, who is also the leader of divestment campaign in Somerville, was really inspiring. Members of the local peace and activist community also came together and lobbied for peace and justice, for decency and fairness.

It is instructive that all the hysteria was about hiding the truth in Palestine-Israel. No one minded that we also criticized the U.S. government over the conduct of the war on Iraq.

Below are articles and links on the local news coverage followed by Joe Carr’s report. For more information on the Wheels of Justice program go to http://www.justicewheels.org/

Hassan

http://www.israelforum.com/blog_article.php?aid=483715
http://www.israelforum.com/blog_article.php?aid=480335

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

Zionists Vs Truth -The Wheels of Justice Battle for Andover

By Joe Carr 6 January, 2007

Last night was one of the most contentions events I’ve ever done. Whoever thought that a simple talk in the library of Andover High School in a small suburb of Massachusetts would make so many headlines.

It all started last October, when six social studies teachers invited the Wheels of Justice Bus Tour to talk to a couple classes. The Wheels of Justice Tour (http://www.justicewheels.org/) brings eyewitness accounts of war and occupation in Iraq and Palestine to communities across the US, including hundreds of high schools. I was on it for several weeks at the end of October.

Despite the tour’s well-regarded reputation for supporting nonviolence and human rights, a group of parents and influential community members pressured the school’s principal, Peter Anderson, to cancel our visit, claiming that we are “anti-Israel” and “support terrorists”, even going so far as to call us a “hate group”. Late the night before we were supposed to speak, Principal Anderson called one of the teachers and told him the talks were off.

We drove the bus to the school the next morning anyway, hoping that the principal could be convinced that this was an unfair violation of the teachers’ rights. But we were unsuccessful, and Principal Anderson, backed up by an Andover Police Officer, asked us to leave.

The teachers’ immediately began organizing, starting with a protest in front of the school that day. The students followed suit with a petition demanding we be allowed to speak. They had 200 signatures by lunch time. Local Zionist groups issued press releases taking credit for blocking us, though Principal Anderson insists that it was his decision.

The teachers union joined with the ACLU and threatened to file a lawsuit against the school district if they didn’t allow us to come back. The school’s lawyers admitted that our case was strong and it could end up costing the district a lot of money if he didn’t bring us back. Anderson caved and bought me a plane ticket.

Zionist forces continued to try and apply pressure behind the scenes. They attempted a court injunction, tried to insist students have permission slips in order to attend, and threatened to hold a picket outside the school. All of these failed, and we had an excellent day of classes.

Because of all the publicity, many more teachers were interested in hearing us speak, so several talks took place in the library with combined classes. All in all, we spoke to over 200 kids in four sessions. The students were very respectful, and asked thoughtful and challenging questions. They seemed to especially like my hip-hop song about Rachel Corrie. Though one student did tape a sign made from notebook paper to an upper-level window that read “YOU SUPPORT TERRISM”.

Because some parents demanded to know what we had said to their kids, the principal agreed to host an evening event that would be open to the public. He clearly had no idea what he was getting into.

By 7pm, Over 300 people were crammed into the library, standing room only, shoulder to shoulder. I counted about 100 Wheels of Justice supporters, 120 Zionists, 80 high school students, nearly all of the administration, three armed Andover police, two TV news cameras, and several photojournalists. You could cut the tension with a knife.

Principal Anderson opened with a call for respect and civility, threatening to cancel the event if there was any disruption. Mazin Qumsiyeh, a prominent Palestinian-American activist, began his talk on Palestinian history. Within 5 minutes, Zionists began screaming at him and calling him a liar. Others yelled at them to be quiet and let Mazin speak. Anderson got up and again threatened to cancel the event, but one of the Zionist leaders took the mic and encouraged her supporters to behave, or otherwise they’d never know what we told their kids.

The event continued with frequent disruption, including threats of violence and other missives. Anderson never removed anyone, even though there were clearly individual provocateurs. Dr Hassan Fouda, an Egyptian-American activist spoke next about his experiences with nonviolent resistance in Palestine. Then I talked about my trip to Iraq, and ended with my song about Rachel Corrie.

The opposition was a little less disruptive during my talk, perhaps because it was on Iraq, perhaps because I’m not Arab-American. Though several people in the back tried to distract me during my song about Rachel by making faces and waving their arms. “These are adults?” I thought.

We then set into the much-anticipated question and answer session, moderated by Principal Anderson, and all hell broke lose. We got through about four questions, if you can call them questions, more like sermons and diatribes. Though the Zionists would not let us answer the questions, and some of our supporters attempted to match their level of disruption in our defense. Eventually, Anderson called it off and abruptly ended the discussion.

However, many people stayed afterwards to talk with us and with each other. The high school newspaper and television station went around interviewing people, and Zionists argued with Mazin and I. Over a dozen students and parents, including Zionists, came up and apologized to me for the way their community behaved. A group of Andover HS students had a small caucus to discuss the event. Student Zionists, supporters, and those on the fence all agreed that this dialogue is important and that they were embarrassed by their parents’ behavior. We weren’t out of there until 10:30pm.

All this was nothing new for me, indeed I’m used to these Zionist whackos having M16s and rocks. Though this was particularly extreme for the US. It reminded me of a talk I did at Washington University in St Louis, where at least half of the 30-student crowed were there to oppose me, including folks wearing Israeli Defense Force hats and T-Shirts. Their onslaught was so intense it caused me to lose my cool and yell, calling the racists. The look in their eyes reminded me of the soldiers and settlers whose violence has so traumatized me. A similar situation could have resulted at MSU in Lansing, MI, where the campus Democrats and Republicans teamed up with a Jewish group to try and pull the funding for my event. They prepared a packet of print-outs from my website and lyrics from my songs attempting to demonstrate that I supported terrorism. When they failed, they vowed to disrupt the event, and campus officials wanted to bring on armed cops. The organizers insisted they could maintain control without police, and they set up an independent student security force stationed at the doors and isles. My fellow speaker and I even got personal body guards! Over 150 students showed up to that event, with about 30 of the opposition who remained calm and quiet. Several more protested outside with signs like “smash hippy leftist scum” and enlarged pictures of me with a hammer and sickle on my forehead.

It never ceases to amaze me how far some people will go to hide the truth. Though it shouldn’t be surprising, considering that lies and propaganda is all the Zionist movement has to stand on. Once enough Americans learn the truth about what our government is supporting in the Middle East, Zionist imperialism is done for.

In the meantime, we’ll keep speaking out, and educating our youth to think for themselves. All this does make me think that I could actually be a high school teacher someday. I am so inspired by the passion of these teachers and students who continue demanding the truth.

See Mazin Qumsiyeh's article on this at http://www.qumsiyeh.org/andoverhighschool/

Read Hassan Fouda's account

Here are some links to various news articles about the event:

http://www.eagletribune.com/local/local_story_006094545
http://www.eagletribune.com/siteSearch/apstorysection/local_story_005120
http://www.eagletribune.com/siteSearch/apstorysection/local_story_004120
http://www.myfoxboston.com/myfox/pages/News/Detail?contentId=1979728&ver
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2006/12/14/students_will_hear_/
http://www.thejewishadvocate.com/this_weeks_issue/news/?content_id=2082
http://www.eagletribune.com/punews/local_story_004120420
http://www.eagletribune.com/local/local_story_341120458?page=2
http://www.jrtelegraph.com/2006/10/naomi_federland_1.html
http://www.eagletribune.com/local/local_story_004094558

And here are Zionist ratings (unrated :-) "opinion" is too strong a word since most of these folks parrot others in the Zionist/racist camp and cannot come up with their own opinions):
http://www.eagletribune.com/puopinion/local_story_004094620
http://www.nysun.com/article/45006?access=551900
http://www.israelforum.com/blog_article.php?aid=486965
http://www.israelforum.com/blog_article.php?aid=484085
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