School for Scandal - Community claims NT Govt discrimination
With a population of 2500, Wadeye is the biggest Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory. But conditions at its school are a national embarrassment. Facilities are rundown and need urgent repair. Locals claim the Northern Territory Government has been under-funding the school for 30 years. And now they're taking their case to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, arguing they're victims of racial discrimination. Broadcast: 16/04/2007 Reporter: Murray McLaughlin
KERRY O'BRIEN: Still on education, with a population nearing 2,500, Wadeye is the biggest Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory. Though it's only 250 kilometres south west of Darwin, it's isolated by road for several months during the wet season. The Northern Territory Government is responsible for funding the local school. But conditions there are woefully inadequate. The people of Wadeye blame the territory Government, which they claim has been underfunding the school for 30 years. Now they're taking their case to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission, arguing they're victims of racial discrimination. Murray McLaughlin reports from Darwin.
MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: The wet season lingers for several months over the Top End. At Wadeye, during the rains, staff and pupils are forced to navigate the school grounds via uncovered and unpaved pathways. The architecture of the school is just as desolate. Buildings are badly maintained, facilities are primitive. Even the Northern Territory's Education Minister was taken aback when he made his first visit to the school a month ago.
PAUL HENDERSON, NT EDUCATION MINISTER: Oh, look, I have to say I was surprised at how tired and run down that school is. It certainly needs attention. It certainly shows that there has been a lack of investment in that school, in terms of infrastructure and maintenance.
MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: The school at Wadeye is one of five so called mission schools run by the Catholic Church at remote Aboriginal communities. When the Northern Territory won self government in the late 1970s, the Commonwealth Government passed responsibility to the Territory for support of the mission schools. Under an agreement in 1979, that support was to be the same as for government schools. But Wadeye has long argued that its school has been sold short by the Northern Territory Government.
PETER SEIDEL, LAWYER, ARNOLD BLOCH LEIBLER: So we're looking at nearly 30 years of administration of education funding for the school at Wadeye through the 1979 agreement. So we're looking at significant underfunding for generations of children and their families at the school.
MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: The Melbourne based law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler and the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University have had lawyers working pro bono for the past two years on a complaint that governments have discriminated against the school at Wadeye. The exercise has involved a massive trawl through documents obtained under freedom of information laws and will culminate this week with a formal complaint to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. Essentially, the complaint says the formula which the Northern Territory Government has used to fund the Wadeye school has been racially discriminatory.
PAUL HENDERSON: I'd deny that the formula is discriminatory. There's a long history to this and I acknowledge that. We certainly need to put that history behind us. The three parties the Territory Government, the Catholic Education Office and the Commonwealth Government need to expedite the closure of a new funding agreement, so that the school at Wadeye can move forward.
MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: Under the current agreement, the Northern Territory gets money from the Commonwealth based on enrolment but funds the school at Wadeye under a complex formula which gauges attendance. Around 600 students were enrolled at the start of the school year but, as in past years, there were too few resources to handle them.
TOBIAS NGAMBE, CO-PRINCIPAL, WADEYE SCHOOL: I mean, if we have all of our children at Wadeye come to this school, there'd be no room, not enough teachers, no classrooms. It's very hard.
SEAN BOWDEN, THAMARRURR COUNCIL LAWYER: What it means in practice is that the children, of course, do drop off because the classrooms aren't there, the teachers aren't there, the resources aren't there. This then inevitably leads to a lower number on attendance. The school, rather than being able to catch up, tends to fall behind as parents lose heart, children lose heart, the community loses heart.
MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: The attendance rate at Wadeye school is now around 460 but because of the attendance formula which the Northern Territory applies, the school is being funded for only 220 students.
ANN REBGETZ, CO-PRINCIPAL, WADEYE SCHOOL: The kids here have suffered greatly from the aspect of not coming to school but in the sense that if they had been at school, they weren't being catered to in having the right resources for them.
PAUL HENDERSON: The commitment from this Government is that if those students do attend, then we will fund and put in the additional resources in regards to teachers and facilities. And at Wadeye, there's a lot of catch up to do.
TEACHER: These tourists are coming to the community and they've got money in their pocket, and they want to buy some art.
MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: Secondary education at Wadeye has taken a long time to catch up. Secondary classes have had to be accommodated within the primary school and it wasn't until 2005 that the first Year 12 students graduated. The town now does have a new dedicated secondary school building but it will open this week without landscaped grounds and without a budget for running costs, estimated at more than $500,000 a year.
ANN REBGETZ: Our new secondary school probably should have been built at least 10 years ago. So I guess there's been a population explosion here over the last 10 years and the authorities really haven't been able to cater for the needs of the students.
MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: For its complaint to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Wadeye is hoping to get an apology for the way the school's been funded under the Mission Schools Agreement and it's seeking compensation. Lawyers who've drawn up the complaint estimate a shortfall on funding for the Wadeye school between $2 million and $3 million just for last year.
PETER SEIDEL: The community is looking for restitution to put them in the place they ought to be, but for the 79 agreement, but for this disgraceful policy. This agreement has been in place for 30 years. We are potentially looking at tens of millions of dollars for the community at Wadeye alone.
MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: The school's Indigenous co principal, who grew up at Wadeye and began working at the school as a teacher's aide more than 30 years ago, hopes that resolution of the complaint of discrimination will fulfil a personal vision.
TOBIAS NGAMBE: My vision for these kids is to be like any kids in Australia when they grow up. I want these kids to become pilots, become doctors, become lawyers, become AFL footballers. It will only be a dream if people don't do something about it today - today, do it today, not tomorrow.
KERRY O'BRIEN: Murray McLaughlin with that report.
Who Will Lead? 16/04/2007 Summary
Who now offers the best hope of leading Indigenous Australians to a brighter future? Is the Federal Government’s ‘mainstream approach’ drawing Aboriginal people into new partnerships based on ‘mutual obligation’? Can the ALP’s promise of a new representative organisation offer a better structure to deal with the aspirations of Indigenous people around the country? Are Indigenous people likely to embrace the proposals to move away from Communal land ownership or is this a fundamental tenant of the Culture? Are remote communities viable or is the federal government right in arguing that people should move towards towns and cities that offer more services? And ultimately, who should make these crucial decisions – Government or Indigenous people?
Transcript available at : http://www.abc.net.au/tv/differenceofopinion/content/2007/s1898022.htm
Dr John Wilson head-on challenges Australia’s legal establishment
Sent: Tuesday, 17 April 2007 3:26
Subject: Illegal seizure and trespass.
Benjamin Mikulski, for Ray Griffith, for Official Trustee,
Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia, Level 8, 135 King Street, Sydney,
NSW 2000. Tel: (02) 8233 7800.
Dear Mr Mikulski,
Re: Your letter Ref: NSW 2466/7/6(FOO).
Again, you threaten me with dispossession because of an illegal judgment made by a Magistrate in the Federal Magistrates Court on 3 April, 2007.
You threaten me with stealing my home and business. You say that my properties "remain vested in the trustee until...(etc)..." and will be sold without my permission.
You are a xxxx. I have informed you of the criminality of the Federal Magistrates Court's proceedings and judgment, but you criminally chose to ignore the truth. This makes you a party to the corruption and treachery.
You will not find me submissive.
The People of Australia are entitled to the protection of our "laws and liberties" which you and the "evil counsellors, judges and ministers" violate.
I strongly suggest you return that which you have stolen, i.e.: "folio identifiers 5/25327 and 116/598983", and not attempt to trespass on those properties.
Tel: (02) 9872 1661.
My Name Is SIEGFRIED VERBEKE
Most people know me because I am a Flemish-Belgium revisionist activist who began with REVISIONISM – together with Ernst Zündel, Thies Christophersen, Richard Harwood, and many others – almost 30 years ago.
At the moment I am in trouble. I had, of course, problems since the beginning: police investigations and raids, a lot of trials and convictions in Belgium, France and Holland, 15 tonnes of books seized in Belgium and enless series of harassments. For the past two years it became more serious because of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW). Before the EAW, I was legally protected against extradition to Germany. With this EAW, every European can at any moment be arrested and on simple demand and after a short administrative proceeding, without many legal defence possibilities, be extradited to any other foreign country, in particular to Germany.
Revisionism is a crime in eight European countries. Worldwide it is not a crime.
Since the creation of the EAW every active and successful Revisionist will sooner or later end in a disgusting German prison.
The case against me started in 2004, with two weeks jail in Ypren, in Flanders Fields, following a German Arrest Warrant. It was denied because I was already convicted for 12 months jail in Belgium. In August 2005, I was on the way to Manila for marriage with Edna Genobili, who is a Filipina living for almost 20 years in London. With utmost surprise in Amsterdam Airport I was again arrested and detained. My wife was devastated, nevertheless she continued her journey to Manila. I stayed three months in jail in Holland, and completely illegal I was handed over to the German >Justice< where I was imprisoned for six months in an isolation cell of a >medieval building< in Heidelberg. Ernst Zündel, at Mannheim prison, and Germar Rudolf, at Stammheim-Stuttgart prison were not far away.
I was thankful to have a Jewish solicitor, Attorney Michael Rosenthal, who served as my defence counsel. After 6 agonizing months I was suddenly released on €1000 bail. I was happy I could finally be with my wife and spend some quality time with her in freedom. This was all during 2006.
In the meantime, Mr Rosenthal, a very sharp and intelligent lawyer had done conscientiously his research. The German court cancelled the accusation against me but without restitution of my 9 months jail term, loss of income, loss of time, deprivation of my happiness, and much more.
The story continues. Again, Belgium police arrested me on November 2006 and put me in prison. This is to purge 15 months for my Revisionist activities. While I refused to change my historical views, they believed that I will continue my revisionist activities. This is their reason to refuse the system of electronic monitor. I will probably – let us hope – be released in July 2007.
In these difficult times I seek your help. Following my 9 months of captivity, I lost a great deal of time, income, savings and health. And 7 months of freedom was not enough to make up for all the damage incurred and by no means compensates the deficiencies. I need some means to survive and specially my wife in the next months, until I will be back to my job and handle the situation myself.
A little help from you would be very much appreciated. Please send it to:
PO Box 46
B – 2600 Berchem 1
Mrs Edna Genobili-Verbeke
B – 8500 Kortrijk
For more important gifts, please send them to:
Barklays Bank Plc
Name: E Genobili
Branch: Golden Green
Bank Acc. No.: 804 68010
Bank Sort Code: 20-29-37
IBAN: GB76 BARC 2029 3780 4680 10
Please write to me but do not send any money to my present address:
Zwarte Brugsrtaat 4
B- 3500 Hasselt
Thank you for your support.
Siegfried and Edna Verbeke
The death toll in the Darfur region of western Sudan has reached between 200,000 and 400,000 as of Oct. 1, with 2.5 million displaced. The UN warns that the death toll could escalate precipitously if the situation is allowed to deteriorate. The dictatorial — and genocidal —Khartoum regime led by Omar al-Bashir, is possibly the world's most brutal and murderous.
The conflict in Darfur is rooted in the long oppression of marginalized groups seeking political and economic equality. Ethnic identification has become increasingly polarized in Darfur, the tribes from which the rebels draw their numbers generally characterized as Black Africans, and the Sudanese army and its proxy militias described as Arab.
While the debate over what to do about Darfur continues, the Sudanese government and critics of the US-based Save Darfur coalition have continued to accuse the movement (or, at least, elements of it) of having ulterior motives: namely, to benefit Israel—both by diverting attention from Israeli war crimes to those of the Khartoum regime and its supporters in the Arab world, and, more ambitiously to actually destabilize Sudan's Islamist government.
Khartoum and Israel: Mutual Exploitation?
The Sudanese government has, unsurprisingly, stressed the participation of Zionist and Jewish groups in the Save Darfur movement—and flatly accused Israel of being behind the insurgency in Darfur.
As early as Dec. 21, 2004, Republic of Sudan Radio reported that Sudanese Interior Minister Ahmad Harun, flanked by two other government ministers, "accused the Zionist entity of supplying the rebels with weapons in the framework of Israel's plan that targets Arab nations."
In May 2005, the Sudanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Samir al-Shaybani told a Syrian interviewer: "We can even say that these powers want to dismember Sudan and replace this government with another one that serves their strategic interests, represented in obliterating Sudan's Arab identity. Top among these powers is the Zionist lobby, which considered the Darfur issue primarily a Jewish issue requiring solidarity between the Jews and some African tribes, which claim to be in conflict with Arab tribes. The Darfur issue has thus been depicted within the framework of mass annihilation. The Zionist groups and US Administration played on this theory and dedicated huge resources and large media and diplomatic campaigns to promote this erroneous diagnosis of the conflict."
Some of the Sudan government's accusations are rooted in the history of the 30-year civil war, in which Israel is believed to have aided the southern rebels. This war came to an end last year in a power-sharing agreement between Khartoum and the southern guerilla groups, even as the situation in Darfur was escalating towards genocide. Another factor is prominent Israel advocate Charles Jacobs' anti-slavery efforts targeting Sudan. But the most pronounced accusations started after the Darfur crisis first erupted in 2003.
The Jerusalem Post reported Dec. 16, 2004, that for the first time, Israel was providing aid to relief efforts in Sudan, in order to "help alleviate the humanitarian crisis" in Darfur. The Post said "Israel joined with several US Jewish groups, including the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the Union for Reform Judaism, the New Jersey MetroWest Federation and UJA-Federation of New York in sending $100,000 to support the International Rescue Committee and aid children in Sudan and Chad orphaned by the civil war in Sudan's Darfur region." Darfur native Muhammed Yahya said his countrymen were "grateful for the assistance and astonished by its source."
"We have been taught for all our lives, from the primary school to the university, that you are the top enemy for Muslims and Arabs all over the world," Yahya said of the Jews and Israelis behind the $100,000 effort. Now, he said, "we realized that what we have been taught all our lives is a kind of a rumor. When we have been killed, you are protecting us; when we are displaced, you are trying to save us; when our people are murdered and raped, you are there trying to help us."
Ayre Mekel, Israel's Council-General in New York at the time, said "The State of Israel is following the developments in Darfur carefully, and as a people who has gone through persecution, we could not sit idly on the sidelines through such a devastating humanitarian disaster. This is according to the Jewish values."
In 2004, the Save Darfur coalition was launched in the US. An article in the April 27 2006 Jerusalem Post, describing the April 30 rally in Washington DC, the first large mass action on the Darfur issue, declared, "US Jews leading Darfur rally planning," and introduced the "Save Darfur" coalition that is now placing full-page ads in major newspapers and ubiquitous television spots. "Little known, " the paper said, " is that the coalition, which has presented itself as 'an alliance of over 130 diverse faith-based, humanitarian, and human rights organization' was actually begun exclusively as an initiative of the American Jewish community." The paper adds that it continues to be "heavily weighted with a politically and religiously diverse collection of local and national Jewish group." In New York, the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan, United Jewish Communities, UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs sponsored the first full-page ad in the New York Times. The paper also noted that while large evangelical Christian groups were in the coalition, that these groups had not done the "kind of extensive grassroots outreach that will produce numbers."
The Washington Post reported April 27 that the rally organizers scrambled at the last minute to add two speakers from Darfur because of objections from Sudanese immigrants that the speakers list contained eight western Christians, seven Jews, four US politicians, several celebrities, but no Muslims and no one from Darfur. James Zogby of the Arab-American Institute participated, explaining that "it was important that Arab Americans make clear our deep concern with the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Our presence in this multi-ethnic multi-religious coalition sends this message."
Zogby did admit to some reservations, but concluded: "And while we may have had questions about... the groups involved in the Save Darfur effort, the coalition included significant respected US and international organizations as well. The International Crisis Group, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Amnesty International, the AFL-CIO/Solidarity Center and a number of US Muslim groups had signed on as sponsors."
The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), a national organization which "coordinate[s] communal activity" nationwide — including pro-Israel advocacy — chartered buses from all over the country, eight from upper Manhattan alone. The JCRC in San Francisco is currently headed by former American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) top honcho Thomas Dine. An Israeli flag was waving prominently at the rally. Predictably, the Sudanese regime denounced the rally as more Zionist pressure.
The April 27 Jerusalem Post also claimed the main organizer behind the rally was former Manhattan borough president Ruth Messinger and the organization she heads, the AJWS, which acts as a Jewish peace corps worldwide. In 2006, Messinger ran for a seat in the World Zionist Congress on the left-liberal "Hatikva" slate.
Messinger told the Washington Post on April 27, "we are interested because this is a humanitarian crisis and we are the Jewish organization that responds to crises around the world. But we are also interested because this is a genocide which has particular meaning to Jews who have sworn never again."
The AJWS started organizing the coalition after the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC issued a first-of-its-kind "genocide alert," about Darfur. Critics have noted that mass death in conflicts in Ethiopia, the eastern Congo, the Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, and Uganda, where the violence is seen as African-on-African, rather than Arab-on-African, have not elicited similar responses from the Holocaust museum. Many of the other concerned parties in the west that have focused on Darfur have likewise ignored conflicts of similar scale elsewhere in Africa. Neither the UN nor the European Union have been willing to apply the "genocide" label to Darfur, as the US has.
The Jerusalem Post also said: "There are critics who say the heavy Jewish involvement might have deterred some other groups from joining. The fact that the aggressors in Darfur are Arab Muslims - though it should be said that the victims are also mostly Muslim - and are supported by a regime in Khartoum that is backed by the Arab League has made some people question the true motives of some of the Jewish organizations involved in the rally."
While the Jewish organizers tried to play down the Jewish composition of the rally, large African-American groups like the NAACP and Africa Action were noticeably absent. By the time of the coordinated global action for Darfur on Sept. 17, the NAACP was on board. But at the Sept. 17 rally in New York's Central Park, African-American participation was still small, despite outreach efforts on the part of the Save Darfur coalition. One speaker from Harlem, Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, noted that the coalition was so tenuous that if they got together in a room to discuss other issues in the Middle East, it would quickly fall apart. He echoed the rest of the speakers in condemning Khartoum's behavior, but disagreed about calling for UN peacekeepers, warning that the Darfur issue was being exploited by those who sought to destabilize Sudan and gain access to its oil. Abdur-Rashid instead preferred pressure on the Khartoum regime and the rebels to go back to the negotiating table.
Abdarahmane Wone, a North America representative of the African Liberation Forces of Mauritania (FLAM), who attended the rally, told WW4 REPORT that he supported the call for UN peacekeepers, but regretted that the political left has ceded the initiative to the right wing on the Darfur issue.
Darfur as Strategic Distraction
Israel advocates had hoped the Save Darfur movement would do more to renew the Black-Jewish alliance that went back to the civil rights era in the US. However, on Sept. 29, after a pro-Israel rally in the wake of the Lebanon war, an organizer identified as a "Jewish official" admitted to New York's Jewish Week "that all the Jewish support for Darfur, trumpeted in Jewish newspapers earlier this year as a harbinger of a renewed alliance between Jews and blacks, proved to be a bust. Jews continue to be the backbone of the Darfur rallies but at the Israel rally, he said 'there were speakers who were black but there was not a concerted black turnout.'"
An article titled "Slavery, Genocide and the Politics of Outrage" in the Spring 2005 issue of the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) journal, states that "Israel and Zionist organizations have long been interested in issues of race and ethnicity in the Arab world." Israel has been accused of arming the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in southern Sudan, and more recently, through the SPLA, rebel forces in Darfur. Both the SPLA and Israel deny the charges.
But a Washington Post story of April 17, 1987 claimed: "Recent visitors to [SPLA leader John] Garang's headquarters at Boma in the southeast reported seeing crates of weapons supplied by Israel. Israel aided an earlier generation of southern rebels during the 1955-72 civil war as part of a policy to destabilize Arab governments." The SPLA also received 20 million in "non-lethal" aid from the US government in 1996. According to his BBC obituary following his death in an air accident last year, Garang was also trained in the US at Fort Benning, GA.
Israel has also reportedly trained Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq. Both the southern Sudanese and the Kurds were seen as local ethnic groups facing Arab imperialism. MERIP notes that "the Zionist concern for minorities in the Arab world is strategic: by focusing on how Arab states (mis)treat their minorities, pro-Israel scholars can shift the spotlight from Palestine, highlight Arab double standards, demonstrate how the subordinate status of minorities in the Middle East necessitated a Zionist project to lift Middle Eastern Jews 'up from dhimmitude' and show how Israel protects minority rights better than any other state in the region."
MERIP also notes, "Given the American Jewish community's silence over the Congo, Uganda and Sierra Leone, it seems the outrage over Darfur is as moral as it is political. 'Now millions of African people face genocide and the UN's top priority is condemning the Israeli security fence that saves lives on both sides of the security barrier,' stated Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY)."
Charles Jacobs: Anti-Slavery as Political Stratagem
The divide on the Darfur issue has roots that go all the way back to 1993, when long-time Israel advocate Charles Jacobs first started to target Sudan, over the issue of slavery. Almost immediately, Nation of Islam (NOI) leader Louis Farrakhan denounced Jacobs as a "Jewish consultant," and took Sudan's side, questioning whether there really was a slavery problem. At the time, the NOI received millions of dollars in support from Libya, which was then collaborating with the Sudan regime and was even implicated in the importation of slaves. Jesse Jackson and others who participated in the 1995 Million Man March with Farrakhan were reluctant to alienate him, and Jacobs and columnist Nat Hentoff both charged Jackson's refusal to alienate Arab states also caused his silence on Sudan.
Beyond members of the congressional Black Caucus, there was little organized African-American support for Jacobs' American Anti-Slavery Group (AASG). The AASG also used a highly controversial means to fight the Sudanese slave trade: they bought slaves' freedom from their captors, a practice known as "redemption" that critics, including UNICEF, argued worsened the situation by fueling the Sudanese slave market—and by extension the Sudanese regime's war against the Christian and animist south, where slaves from captured villages were a goad for pro-government warlords. Most of the support for the AASG came from mostly conservative Christian organizations, including Christian Solidarity International (CSI) which eventually lost its UN NGO status for its relationship to John Garang.
Another Jewish supporter of Jacobs' efforts was Barbara Ledeen, wife of prominent neo-con columnist and political operative Michael Ledeen, and director of a conservative think tank, the Independent Women's Forum. Ledeen charged, "The fact that Farrakhan is a player, protecting the government of Sudan and the government of Mauritania, sends a message to other African-American leaders that they better not mess with this."
Another early supporter of Jacobs was right-wing Israel advocate Jeff Jacoby, a columnist for the Boston Globe, and a speaker at the 2004 convention of the pro-Israel media watchdog, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).
Senators Lincoln Chafee and Jack Reed of Rhode Island, and Rep. Patrick Kennedy all expressed doubts about the efficacy and morality of Jacobs' efforts. Richard Miniter of the Wall Street Journal related in a 1999 article for the Atlantic Monthly how he turned against the efforts of Jacobs and his allies during a trip with Christian Freedom International (CFI) to Sudan. "As I spoke with [district government spokesman Adelino Rip] Goc," Miniter said, "a crowd of villagers encircled us. 'Does anyone here support slave redemption?' I asked. No one did. One man said that I should talk to Machar Malok Machar. In a previous raid on Akoch, Machar was captured and marched into the desert. Before sunrise on the second day he crawled away and hid. He waited for hours until the Muslim slave raiders departed. Then he walked home, with his hands still tied behind his back, to find his wife and family missing, his hut burned, his cattle and goats gone. After I heard his story, I asked him about slave redemption. 'It is bad,' he said. 'They do these terrible things to put shillings in their pockets. They are crazy for the money. Why would you give it to them?'"
Even CFI head Jim Jacobson, who Miniter accompanied on that Sudan trip, started to discourage the practice of slave redemption after what he saw in Sudan. Jacobs was undeterred, saying the important thing was getting slaves out of "the hands of monsters." Jacobs claimed he would stop if it was proved slave redemption did more harm than good, but he has rabidly attacked criticism of his efforts. Jacobs has also criticized Israel for normalizing relations with Mauritania.
Although Jacobs claims to be a liberal, he often associates with the right-wing. This seems to be a pattern for Israel advocates, including many neo-conservative officials who started out as liberals, and commentators such as Phyllis Chesler, David Horowitz and Alan Dershowitz.
Jacobs was the co-founder of CAMERA, and its executive director for a period in the '80's. He also founded the David Project, which backed the "Columbia Unbecoming" project, to expose supposed anti-Israel bias at Columbia University, charged by its critics as a McCarthyite witch-hunt. This was undertaken in cooperation with Campus Watch, run by the right-wing and (many say) Islamophobic Daniel Pipes. The David Project is funded by the Charles and Lynn Shustermann foundation, and is an affiliate member of the Israel on Campus Coalition, which, in cooperation between the Shustermanns and Hillel, brings a heavily right-wing roster of Israel advocacy speakers to campuses. Jacobs is also an advisor to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), whose board and staff include Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former CIA director R. James Woolsey, Virginia's Rep. Eric Cantor, and such conservative heavy hitters as Gary Bauer, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, Frank Gaffney and Richard Perle. Another supporter is Lebanese scholar Dr. Walid Phares, alleged to be associated with the fanatically anti-Palestinian Guardians of the Ceders (GOTC), responsible for several massacres during Lebanon's civil war.
The late investigative journalist Robert Friedman wrote in The Nation June 6, 1987 that CAMERA was "created specifically to keep the U.S. press in line...At least in one case, it has assigned freelance reporters to dig into the personal lives of liberal journalists whose views deviate from the narrowest spectrum of pro-Israeli opinion. CAMERA, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the rest of the lobby don't want fairness, but bias in their favor. And they are prepared to use McCarthyite tactics, as well as the power and money of pro-Israel PACs, to get whatever Israel wants."
Jacobs is also a client of Benador Associates, a PR firm run by Eleanor Benador, whose list of clients reads like a neo-con who's who. Benador supplied to the media many of the op-eds and talking heads that pushed for the Iraq war, and now push for war on Iran, including the famously bogus piece by Iranian emigre Amir Taheri which falsely claimed a new law would compel Iranian Jews to wear yellow insignia.
Jacobs also served as the spokesperson for the National Unity Coalition for Israel (NUCI), consisting of 500 fundamentalist Christian and right-wing Jewish supporters of Israel. The group was so right-wing that Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, a leader in coordinating Christian Zionist support for Israel, said he resigned from the NUCI's board because of the group's "anti-Rabin, pro-Likud" positions. On Jan. 21, 1998, the New York Times quoted Jacobs saying the NUCI was "'giving voice' to evangelical Christians who are ardent Zionists."
Jacobs also put out a press release protesting the US government for its Oct. 17, 2005 decision to upgrade Sudan's human trafficking status from Tier III — the worst possible ranking — to Tier II. Ironically, among countries ranked as Tier II is Israel.
In 2000, Jacobs and other Sudan activists started a campaign to divest from Sudan, targeting mutual funds like Fidelity that invest in oil companies doing business in Sudan. In 2002, Jacobs' Israel advocacy and Sudan activism visibly converged when a movement to divest from Israel briefly gripped some prominent US universities, including Harvard. In an Oct. 4, 2002 op-ed piece for the Boston Globe, titled, "WHY ISRAEL, AND NOT SUDAN, IS SINGLED OUT," Jacobs' noted that Harvard's president Lawrence Summers denounced the divestment from Israel campaign on his campus as anti-Semitic "in effect, if not in intent." Jacobs attacked Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for "investigat[ing] false reports of Jews massacring Arabs," and asked why they don't "care so much less about Arab-occupied Juba, South Sudan's black capital?"
It is "a human rights complex" Jacobs explains, "and is not hard to understand. The human rights community, composed mostly of compassionate white people, feels a special duty to protest evil done by those who are like 'us.'" Then comes the laundry list: "The biggest victims of this complex are not the Jews who are obsessively criticized but the victims of genocide, enslavement, religious persecution, and ethnic cleansing who are murderously ignored: the Christian slaves of Sudan, the Muslim slaves of Mauritania, the Tibetans, the Kurds, the Christians in Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt."
In 2005, Jacobs trumpeted the success of his Sudan divestment initiative with a note on the AASG website: "SudanActivism.com—a website devoted to empowering college students with the tools to launch their own divestment campaigns—is launched. Campaigns at Harvard, Stanford, and Dartmouth succeed in pressuring the schools to divest holdings in companies operating in Sudan. Their successes spawn similar campaigns at schools across the country." Harvard president Summers, who found divesting from Israel to be anti-Semitic in effect, said of the Sudan divestment effort: "This is the right thing to do in light of the ongoing events in Darfur."
Jacobs-Speak Crosses the Pond
Jacobs often assails progressives for attacking Israel and ignoring Sudan, but ironically many self-identified progressives (like Jacobs) are leaders of the battle against divestment from Israel. ENGAGE, formed in response to the British academic boycott of Israel, states in its website:
"Engage is a single issue campaign. It focuses on one issue, antisemitism, and is therefore concerned also about the demonization of Israel, and of Jews who don't think of themselves as anti-Zionists. We believe that a new commonsense is emerging that holds Israel to be a central and fundamental evil in the world. We disagree with this notion and we think that it is dangerous. The danger is that this kind of thinking may well lead to, and license, the emergence of a movement that is racist against Jews in general. "
However, amidst posts calling out anti-Semitism and attacking Israel boycott campaigns, the one other issue Engage increasingly addresses is Darfur. On Oct. 1, David Hirsh, a sociologist and one of the leading forces of Engage, titled a post, "Death in Darfur." Hirsh writes: "It is not 'the Zionists' who are 'using' Darfur to deflect attention from Israel's human rights abuses; it is the genocidaires in Darfur who are using 'Zionism' to deflect attention from their genocide. The ongoing human catastrophe in Darfur has continued to accelerate, while the alleged 'world community' is either paralyzed or, in some cases, actively collaborating with the criminals."
Engage also uses the construct that boycotting Israel is anti-Semitic in effect, if not intent. John Pike, a founding member of the group, denounced the short-lived boycott of Israeli academics by the British teacher's union NAFTHE. "Does that amount to anti-Semitism? I think it does, in effect, if not intent."
British anti-Zionist commentator Mark Elf of the blog Jews Sans Frontieres told WW4 REPORT: "Engage has recently turned its ire on Jews for Justice for Palestinians because of their campaigning against the occupation. Before that their targets were Jews Against Zionism and organisers of the academic boycott like Stephen and Hilary Rose. All the while the main organiser of Engage - David Hirsh - claims to be a non-zionist and yet his own position on zionist rule is indistinguishable from that of another Engage 'contributor' - John Strawson - who ran for a seat on the World Zionist Congress under the banner of Meretz."
Jacobs and the Assault on Mideast Studies
It was the "Columbia Unbecoming" imbroglio that thrust Jacobs and his efforts into the spotlight most fully. The episode allowed elements of Jacobs' multi-pronged Israel advocacy to converge: media campaigns, attacking Middle Eastern studies departments, using student activists—and Sudan activism. Columbia Unbecoming was a combined effort of the David Project, campus Israel activists, and media, especially the right-wing New York Sun. Columbia Unbecoming produced an eponymous video in which mostly Jewish and sometimes Israeli Columbia students claimed harassment and anti-Semitism by professors in MELAC, or Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures. A Columbia committee eventually exonerated the named professors.
At the height of the Columbia Unbecoming affair, Columbia Professor Dan Miron told the New York Sun: "Israelis are put to a test that is not applied to anyone else. You will not hear any murmur about the people of Sudan but...Israel is singled out in a way that is racist."
In their March 2005 coverage of a public screening of the film, the Jewish Week reported: "Charles Jacobs, founder of the David Project, one of the event's sponsors and the man behind the 'Columbia Unbecoming' documentary, called Jewish critics of the film, including some Columbia professors, 'Marranos of Morningside Heights,' a derogatory reference to Jews who converted to Christianity to avoid the Spanish Inquisition.... Jacobs added that Middle East departments in the United States are controlled by two trends: Palestinianism and Saidism, named after the late, controversial Columbia Professor Edward Said, a champion of the Palestinian cause. Palestinianism, Jacobs said, 'is a cult that obscures any credible academics regarding Israel. It's a highly cultivated weapon of mass distraction.' Saidism, on the other hand, is a 'gag order on Westernism that enforces silence,' he said."
The account went on to describe a telling incident. "Immediately following the speech by Jacobs, in which he introduced a small band of black Sudanese to talk about their torture by Arabs, the documentary was screened. As the film, which has gone through a number of edits, ended, a few students featured in it spoke."
Each one of the Sudanese — and Mauritanian — ex-slaves got up to thank Israel and the Jewish people for their freedom.
The event was co-sponsored by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), which opposes the creation of a Palestinian state. Morton Klein, the head of ZOA, told the audience, "There is no occupation," referring to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Another featured speaker was feminist writer Phyllis Chesler, who has been featured on the ENGAGE website as well. Chesler, author of The New Anti-Semitism, told the audience: "The largest practitioner of apartheid on the planet is Islam, in terms of both religious apartheid and gender apartheid…" Cheered on by the crowd, Chesler said the Palestine Solidarity Movement, a national campus movement to divest from Israel, "is a group in my opinion that's quite similar to the Ku Klux Klan, or to the Nazi party." The situation deteriorated after Chesler brought up Jenin. As the Jewish Week described it:
"When Chesler defended Israel's actions regarding the 2002 battle in Jenin, one woman in the audience shouted, 'We should have bombed them from the start' —referring to the Palestinian residents of Jenin. 'We should have killed them all,' a man yelled."
When an activist from Jews Against the Occupation rose to ask a question, stating that he had once been shot by the Israeli army, he "was drowned out by a sea of invectives." One audience member shouted "Too bad they missed."
The account also reported harassment of the reporters on hand. "The Jewish Week's reporter was approached with…demands for identification and was flash-photographed repeatedly by a woman in the audience. When asked to stop, the woman said, 'We're taking pictures of you. We want to know who you are.' A New York Times photographer, taking photos of the silenced dissenter from Jews Against the Occupation leaving the room, was surrounded by a large group of people telling her to put down her camera. 'You have no right to do this,' one woman yelled, waving her hand in the photographer's face. Another man said, 'It's our event, not his. Don't distort it like the Times always does.' The photographer left the auditorium."
Which Way Forward?
WW4 REPORT asked Jen Marlowe, a Jewish film-maker and activist who recently co-authored a film and a book about Darfur, what she thought would be the most useful role for Jewish activists on the issue. She replies, "I feel certain that the motivations of the majority of Jewish activists on Darfur are simply trying to protect human life and have a feeling of connection with the horror of genocide. However, Jewish groups need to share the space and the 'stage' with Darfurian groups and Muslim groups as truly equal partners in leading the activist efforts."
Marlowe also said that in order for there to be legitimacy in criticizing regimes that violate human rights, including boycotts and sanctions, there cannot be a double standard. "If Jewish Darfur activists make any connections between Sudan and Israel at all, I would like to see it be because they are calling for the end of human rights violations in both places," she says.
Marlowe says there are many Arab-Americans who are outraged at what is happening in Darfur, but feel uncomfortable with the current coalition, because of a feeling that it may be combined with other agendas. Marlowe concludes: "A clear message from Jewish activists that Darfur is not being co-opted for other purposes would allow others, including Arabs and Muslims, to come on board, and there would be more true diversity in Darfur activism."
RESOURCES: Save Darfur
American Anti-Slavery Group
Jews Sans Frontieres
"Slavery, Genocide and the Politics of Outrage"
MERIP, Spring 2005, Issue 234
The Jewish Week, Sept. 29, 2006
The Jewish Week, March 11, 2005
"Darfur: The Overkill The Janjaweed Spin Out of Control" by Rene Wadlow
WW4 REPORT #113 September 2005
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