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News :: Human Rights
Somerville Art Fest Excludes Palestinian-Rights Divestment Group
13 Jul 2005
On Wednesday July 6th in the afternoon Christina received an email from the director of the Somerville Arts Council indicating that Somerville Divestment Project would not be allowed to participate in this year's festival to occur on July 16th

On Thursday, in a phone call to the Somerville Arts Council, made while Somerville Divestment Project members were present, the mayor indicated that SDP would not be allowed to participate in this years ArtBeat Festival.

SDP's rights to participate in a community group along with other cultural, artistic and political groups was short-circuited by the mayor of Somerville Joe Curtatone. This issue may raise concerns about first amendment issues, and equal protection under the law. Legal officials have been contacted by SDP on this matter.
Background

Representatives of SDP, Christina Bolton and Ron Francis met with Gregory Jenkins, the director of the Council. We argued that the Somerville Divestment Project has attended the event twice before and that there had never been an incident that caused any difficulty. We showed pictures of SDP operating at the event two prior years (2003, 2004), including pictures which showed the signs we had used. We also brought and showed to him the large signs that we had used in each of the last two years.

The director indicated that this issue has caused complaints by some people and that this issue "has escalated from before". We told him
that our activities included artwork in the form of linoleum lithograph, passing our educational information, selling T-shirts, olive oil, and wood carvings from Palestine and that the materials
that we had submitted this year were similar in nature. We showed him that our materials represented no escalation at all and in fact were
nearly identical.

We also inquired why it was that we were never contacted to as rebut the charges made by people who were complaining.

We argued that there were other political groups that were present such as Somerville Medford UJP (anti-war group), Amnesty
International, housing and environmental groups, that were using political literature – some of which was quite controversial.

It became clear after a while that the director essentially agreed with us that we were in no violation of any rules and that the main
reason that we were being denied is because he had received a lot of phone calls from people complaining about our presence and pressure
from the mayor's office.

We asked him who made the final decisions on this matter. At first he indicated that he made the final decisions but then stated clearly
that the mayor was his boss and "professionally" he had to consult with the mayor and was basically passing the buck to the mayor (even
if he might agree with us "personally")

He indicated that the mayor was his boss and then proceeded to call the mayor's office in front of us. The conversation with the mayor's
assistant was very brief and the director indicated that he heard the mayor say in the background "under no circumstances" and that we (SDP reps) should "leave the office".


Christina and Ron stayed for another 15 minutes or so and continued to argue that we had been to the events in two previous years 2003 and
2004 and that there were no incidents of any nature and no police were ever involved or anything really. We told him that approximately 200 to 400 people had come up to our table (at least 200 signatures plus other who did not sign but just took information)

We showed the director again the T-shirt design that one of our members had made as a lithograph plate and that it was original art.
The director indicated finally that he did not have any problems with our materials but that he had received complaints. At one point the
director indicated that he might have to disallow all political groups from attending the event in order to be consistent. When pressured
however he said that our group was different because he had received complaints. We argued that it was political discrimination and that
he was singling out SDP and not other political groups and in some sense denying us the civil right of freedom of expression and equality of treatment.

Background:

The Somerville Divestment Project is an organization that is 2 and 1/2 years old and lobbied the Somerville Board of Aldermen to pass a
divestment resolution last year. After 8 of the 11 Aldermen co-sponsored the divestment resolution, the Board, in the end voted against it (10 to 1). The mayor at the time indicated that he would veto any such move for divestment, prior to hearing the testimony of the SDP or ever talking with any SDP representatives. In 2005 SDP has indicated that it would pursue a ballot question on the issue and has contacted over 200 residents onthis matter of the ballot question

The mayor was given a free trip to Israel this past winter. It was an all-expenses paid affair where they carted him around and showed him
whatever they wanted him to see. He has refused to meet with the full Somerville Divestment Project in the past.

He was heavily criticized by citizens and parties independent for the SDP fir accepting such an offer from a State which a large number of
his citizens opposed investing in. A State official who is involved with political conflicts of interest (ethics matters) indicated that the mayor's action don't pass the "smell test".

===
take action:
Call the mayor's office to complain

Non-Somerville residents can also call as concerned citizens of the United States. We live in a country where freedom of plitical expression is supposed to be guranteed.

Plesae tell all of your friends to call
as well.

mayor is at 617 625 6600 ext 2100
See also:
http://www.divestmentproject.org

This work is in the public domain.
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Re: Art Fest Excludes Divestment Group
14 Jul 2005
i think you've got grounds for a lawsuit here on first ammendment grounds, especially given the involvement of the mayor. talk to the Mass ACLU.
Joe Curtatone Supports Christmas if it is a department store employing slave labor
14 Jul 2005
The Somerville Zoning Board of Appeals turned down an appeal by the Mystic View Task Force (MVTF) last Monday that sought to stop the renovation of the Assembly Square Mall.

"This is a major, tangible step forward in the development of Assembly Square," Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone said in a press release on Tuesday. The decision removed obstacles to the building of a Christmas Tree Shops store by next summer
Joe Curtatone creates traffic and barricades in DNC extortion bid.
14 Jul 2005
``Give us money, or we're going to make life even more miserable during the Democratic National Convention.'' That's the ultimatum delivered by Medford Mayor Mike McGlynn and Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone to Boston, state and DNC officials.
Joe Curtatone Urges Americans that Israel is "Too Complex" to discuss.
14 Jul 2005
“Somerville residents should speak out not only on local but also national and international issues,” he added. “But the complexity of the Middle East situation argues for extreme caution.”
Joe Curtatone breaks promise and gives sweetheart deal to his media relations agent
14 Jul 2005
The Telecommunications and Public Information director’s position, which Curtatone gave to his friend Mark Horan, will receive a pay increase of $8,000. Horan also acts as Curtatone’s spokesperson, which is disconcerting, as Curtatone pledged to not having a spokesperson once he was elected.
National Alliance supports Divestment
16 Jul 2005
The "divestment crowd" are not really serious about divestment. If they were they'd toss out their cell phones and dump their computers. If unfortunate enough to go to the hospital, they'd have to ask the doctors not to use any Jewish stuff..
INDYMEDIA runs on Israeli technology!
"Divestment " is just another way to attack Israel without having to blow up any kids.
You have to wonder at the motive, with prospects for peace, greater now then at any time in the past. Perhaps the "peace" fplks don't really want peace...
Re: Somerville Art Fest Excludes Palestinian-Rights Divestment Group
17 Jul 2005
Prospects for peace greater now than ever before? When armed Jewish extremists resist their removal from the Gaza strip, all the while the Sharon government does everything in its power to entrench the Israeli presence on the real prize, the Palestinian West Bank? And you misunderstand divestment--we don't mind using "Israeli technology" whatever that is. We just don't want to have to continue to subsidize and fund a government that 1) oppresses and occupies neighboring peoples, 2) spies on the U.S., 3) sells advanced weapons to everyone and his sister, including China, 4) is extremely corrupt. What's wrong with introducing a little public debate and democracy to this subject? Are you afraid that good people in Somerville will come to the same conclusion millions of others have?
Re: Somerville Art Fest Excludes Palestinian-Rights Divestment Group
18 Jul 2005
"Are you afraid that good people in Somerville will come to the same conclusion millions of others have? "

You mean support for Israel?
A Question of Process
18 Jul 2005
I am offended that some innocuous comments of mine have been sanitized from this forum based on someone's political preferences. Was this a decision made with any form of official process? Were there complainants or was this an executive decisio9n by a staff member? I would like to face my accuser. It was my understanding that all my posts were similar.
Re: Somerville Art Fest Excludes Palestinian-Rights Divestment Group
19 Jul 2005
The hidden comments came across as either anti-Semitic or homophobic, something that is hardly innocuous. Our editorial policy clearly states we will hide all posts that are racist, homophobic or otherwise prejudiced. Boston Indy Media is supportive of groups working for social justice and such forms of prejudice blatantly contradict our mission. We have reached or editorial policy through consensus, taking into account feedback from our users. Editors usually make indidivual judgments about what to hide, based on this editorial policy, since trying to reach consensus on every single decision would be insanely time-consuming. All editors can, however, see hidden comments and thus check up on each others' decisions. In this particular case, we also had complaints from two different readers about the contents of your posts.
Re: Somerville Art Fest Excludes Palestinian-Rights Divestment Group
19 Jul 2005
"Are you afraid that' good people' in Somerville will come to the same conclusion millions of others have?" ...or are you afraid that the people of Somerville will come to the same conclusion BILLIONS of others have: Free Palestine from the U.S/Israel axis of occupation.
JDL opposes Divestment
19 Jul 2005
"Divestment" is another way to stop Israel from blowing up any more kids! You have to wonder at the motives of opponents of divestment with prospects for Israeli apartheid & Palestinian bantustans (occupation by other means) greater now than at any time in the past. Perhaps the zionist folks don't really want peace...
Re: Somerville Art Fest Excludes Palestinian-Rights Divestment Group
19 Jul 2005
"Boston Indy Media is supportive of groups working for social justice and such forms of prejudice blatantly contradict our mission."

I take this to mean that you believe Tufts Hillel is a group working for social justice. May I ask how you came to that conclusion? Was there a consensus on the fact that Tufts Hillel is a protected group above and beyond criticism, especially where they have been proven to be lobbying Joe Curtatone rather heavily? How does one get to be protected from criticism in this way?

"Editors usually make indidivual judgments about what to hide, based on this editorial policy, since trying to reach consensus on every single decision would be insanely time-consuming."

Does this mean to say that you personally defend Tufts Hillel against criticism which has been drawn from facts gleaned from the Newspaper? I am curious. Is it up to everyone else at IMC to chase down your personal evaluation and revoke it? Is that how truth is acheived or manufactured here? Where does a user fit in on this esoteric plan of consensus?
Re: Somerville Art Fest Excludes Palestinian-Rights Divestment Group
20 Jul 2005
Who's defending Tufts Hillel? The problem was that Tony Vandal was criticizing Curtatone's connections to Jews in general, not any particular group (though Tufts Hillel was mentioned as an example).
That seems to be in your mind.
20 Jul 2005
Perhaps you expanded the accusation in your mind to be a condemnation of Jews in general. I specifically read where Joe Curtatone repeated nearly verbatim what Tufts Hillel told him. Now, Tony didn't go and sing a sad song about the Palestinians, but rather challenged a local hasbara and its pet politicians. I can see where you might be confused. Why not explicitly state that direct challenges to allegedly oppressed interest groups won't be tolerated? You have gone far beyond defending a protected group. You have squashed legitimate debate.
Re: Somerville Art Fest Excludes Palestinian-Rights Divestment Group
20 Jul 2005
This reminds me of NEANTIFA. The claim that one is not shielding jewish lobbyists from criticism, but merely combatting racism. Nobody believes that.
Re: Somerville Art Fest Excludes Palestinian-Rights Divestment Group
20 Jul 2005
If Zionists really do have thier alleged birthright to just move into Palestinian lands, take over, steal what they can, MURDER anyone who resists the theft (or is just in the wrong place, as defined by Zionist invadors), route the bereaving widows and orphans of the Zionist's war of conquest into the wilderness, and twenty years later, ivnade the wilderness as well, to start up with the ethnic cleansing afresh, then I would sure as hell like to hear about thier alleged birthright of murderous theft of Palestinian lands.

And I would also like to hear how so many interloapers, not just in the US but around the world, think they have a right to deny the Palestinians the right to self determination by aiding the Zionists in thier bloodsoaked war of conquest and occupation of Palestinian lands. Not just with thier own cash, but public taxes as well.

To suggest that Nazis had no right of murderous theft of thier neighbopr's homelands wouldn't make you anti-German. So how is it that people who say that Zionists have no birthright of murderous theft of even 1 single rock in the Palestinian's homeland could make you anti-Jewish?
Re: Somerville Art Fest Excludes Palestinian-Rights Divestment Group
22 Jul 2005
I admire the spirit that motivates Boston IMC to hide hateful posts, but this practiice has been quite troubling on many occaisions.

Whoever is on "the board" decides what is and isn't hateful, and thus is only as capable as their knowledge allows them to be. If they themselves have been raised in a white-supremacist culture that, for example, values the lives of people of European descent, such as the Zionist founders and European settlers of Israel, more than Asian life, then they will be biased when they assess what is "anti-semitic." [Eastern European Ashkenazim are not actually semites, so perhaps Jew-hatred or Judeophobia would be a more accurate term. See for example _Sharing the Land of Canaan_ by Mazin Qumsiyeh.] For example, why isn't the post that attempts to colonize credit for all technology of computers and cell phones hidden for its Israeli-supremacist nature? Isn't that kind of hateful and abusive? Especially since those technological contriubtions to these technologies will have been "discovered" on stollen Arab land, with stollen Arab water and on and on? Or how about later in "The company you keep"'s post where he implies Israel is legitimate and has a right to exist. Israel is an apartheid state founded on genocide. This seems quite anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian, and in fact, anti-semitic to me [Palestinians are of the semitic linguistic group and protection of the state of Israel is tantamount to perpatuating the genocide of Palestinians.]

On the other hand, some of Tony Vandal's hidden posts merely include quotes. Assuming they are accurate, such as the one refering to Tufts Hillel, how is this Judeo-phobia in any way to share it? And if he had made a generalization, such as he did in the Christmas post, be aware that Zionists have spent a century trying to hijack and speak for all Jews. They have set up an apartheid state that privileges Jews - first and fore most Ashkenzi Jews, but all Jews to one degree or another relative to the indigenous non-Jewish Palestinian population. Most American mainstream Jewish organizations and copngregations are Zionist - despite principled dissent by a small, but dedicated crew of Jewish folks. Even more Jews in the US choose to not bother with Jewish organizations or Zionism. So clearly, Zionists have no right to claim to speak for all Jews. But is it "hate-mongering" to point out that the organized Jewish groups are Zionist, lobby for Israel and are quite accepting of a genocidal process against non-Jewish Palestinians? Even the local Boston Jewish Social Justice group Tekai refuses to take a position against Zionism (although I am glad to see that some of the members wish they would.) Even Tikkun promotes the wall as a peace-maker and is against the right of return, a UN declared human right [article 13.]

Personally, I like to be very clear about the difference between Zionism and Judiasm, Zionists and Jews. Since Jews are the privileged group in the conquest of Palestine, it is very understandable, particularly for people who live in that region, to label the oppressors "Jews." If people here make the same inaccurate approximation, it has to be understood that it is at least as likely that this is due to accepting the Zionist rhetoric - the mainstream discourse in the US - and not necessarily out of some innate hatred of Jews as a faith or ethnic group.

I hope Matt Williams will do a lot more reading about the history and details of this conflict - but until he does, IMC's "anti-hate" policy will only be as just as the ability of the editors to judge. A tall order for any group, which is why I tend to be against such policies, but certainly difficult for a group that lacks ethnic, religious, gender, and other forms of diversity such as Boston IMC...

And considering how a good understanding of Palestine would preclude any pro-Israel and most anti-divestment posts, would this even be the healthiest way to deal with the hatred? On the one hand, we all want to create a safe space that welcomes everyone and is just towards all, but at the same time, do we really want to drive the intentional bigots and/or inadvertant hurtful posts underground? Or do we have enough strength and commitment from community members to stand up to them one by one and expose them for what they are? I don't have the answer, but the inherent double standard that results from the current policy is frustrating, to say the least.

Meanwhile, oppressed groups with more voice, access to power, and privilege in the US will continue to get better attention paid to discrimination against them. And less powerful groups, like Muslims and Arabs these days - will continue to see hate coming at them everywhere they look - even unfortunately on IMC, despite the best efforts of dedicated and sincere editors.
Re: Somerville Art Fest Excludes Palestinian-Rights Divestment Group
22 Jul 2005
Well, as it turns out, when Zionists and thier enablers say that "Israel" has a right to exist, all they are really debating is that a Jewish country has a right to exist. They could make or loose that debate without even mentioning the Palestinians.

But wether or not Zionists have thier alleged birthright to steal Palestinian lands and murder Palestinians who resist the theft (or are just in the wrong place, as defined by the Zionist crusaders) is a real world issue that Zionists and thier enablers do not like to debate. Then they have to explain how Hebrews being murderous thieves of the land gives Zionists thier alleged birthright to be murderous thieves of the land too.

And for some reason, the real world issue gets pushed aside to make the meaningless philosophical debate, of wether or not a Jewish country has a right to exist, the soul issue. The real world issue is always discarded and meaningless issues arise.

Like intel inside is of some importance when debating wether or not ZIonists have thier alleged birthright of murderous theft of Palestinian lands. Or that ZIonist crusaders are democratic. Or that the ZIonist crusader state votes with the US at the UN. Sheesh! Not that I have seen that one here, yet. But it still shows up from time to time.

Now how could the Zionists voting with the US at the UN posibly show anything more than thier prejudices and thier willingness to play on YOUR prejudices. Does the fact that Zionists vote with the US at the UN change a damned thing in the real world issue? No. It is just more BS designed to influence interloapers who don't have ANY business saying who gets to live (literaly live) in the Palestinian's homeland but still reload the Zionist's guns as fast as Zionists unload them into Palestinians, anyway.

I would really like to hear why so many Americans think they have ANY business saying who gets to live in the Palestinian's homeland. But I never hear ANY reasons, just suppositions that always fall apart.
Re: Somerville Art Fest Excludes Palestinian-Rights Divestment Group
26 Jul 2005
"This reminds me of NEANTIFA. The claim that one is not shielding jewish lobbyists from criticism, but merely combatting racism. Nobody believes that."

This is funny, because I'm in that group, and I support the divestment campaign. I'm pretty sure everyone else would if they lived in Somerville. But that doesn't fit into your worldview, does it?
Re: Somerville Art Fest Excludes Palestinian-Rights Divestment Group
26 Jul 2005
"...or are you afraid that the people of Somerville will come to the same conclusion BILLIONS of others have: Free Palestine from the U.S/Israel axis of occupation."

Thankfully, we live in the U.S where the vast majority of the population supports Israel and the vast majority of the population supports the rights of the Israel haters to free speech.
Re: Somerville Art Fest Excludes Palestinian-Rights Divestment Group
26 Jul 2005
"This is funny, because I'm in that group, and I support the divestment campaign. I'm pretty sure everyone else would if they lived in Somerville. But that doesn't fit into your worldview, does it?"

Total crap. There is no proof that you are in that group. You're bluffing.
Re: Somerville Art Fest Excludes Palestinian-Rights Divestment Group
26 Jul 2005
And can peAce explain how ANY Americans have a right to give Palestinian lands to Zionists by reloading the Zionist crusader's guns as fast as the Zionists unload them into Palestinians. Just how is the Palestinians right to self determination your's to take away, asshole???
Re: Somerville Art Fest Excludes Palestinian-Rights Divestment Group
27 Jul 2005
very lively and stimulating discusssion of this issue in the larger context that raises many vexing questions about the 'ole double standard with regard to The Jewish State that continues to hobble American foreign policymaking - as well as policymaking in Somerville and at IMC Boston. It's a real shame this same energy couldn't be channeled into a more effective political movement for Palestine locally and nationally... all of these little 'fits and starts' keep cropping up sporadically which is encouraging but more co-ordinated grassroots organizing is still insufficient.