It is time to run for office so start raising some cash from family and friends and neighbors and partners in crime and it is time to make a fund for lawyers and a fund for bail and it is time to grow food and catch rain water and it is time to put pens and paints and the golden age of TV away because we don't have time for bearing witness right now because humans like you and our entire existence on the actual planet are at risk and these last five days have been exhausting and depressing and there are so many more days to go and despite the massive march this is only the beginning and executive orders are five by five making quick work of campaign promises and we do not stand a chance unless we take power and as long as elections are still taking place it is incumbent on you to run and win
This was originally published at The Forward.
The most common question I get asked about my decision to immigrate to Israel five years ago is “Why? Why would you move here?” Sometimes it’s asked by earnest American Jews, and sometimes it comes with a tinge of that famous Israeli cynicism. Either way, it raises the specter of another question, one that is increasingly bubbling to the surface among Israeli leftists as the country’s rightward slide becomes more and more pronounced: How much longer will you stay?
They totally agree with your goals, but they're not fans of the tactics. Don't obstruct parades. Pride and the brutality of police forces are different matters. And don't obstruct highways. And don't let the constant threat and actuality of murder turn into hard and real anger. It's disruptive and only serves to polarize people. Making people late for work will only make them angry, more so than when people see a bleeding man die on 'facebook live'. Some saw gross injustice in that blood stained car as tears welled up across the country. Others saw a one time, or maybe one hundred times, or perhaps a one thousand times incident, but definitely not something systemic.
The memorial songs for Bernie Sanders' campaign are ringing through the streets and everyone seems ready to call it for Clinton as a growing centrist voice is demanding that democrats fall in, and toe the party line in the coming presidential campaign, which is most likely going to be against the racist, sexist, and always conspiracy-theory-minded Donald Trump. But in actuality, Clinton is just around three hundred delegates up on Sanders, with about eleven hundred delegates still up for grabs in the race to two thousand three hundred and eighty three. Super delegates, which are decidedly with Hillary right now, can go to anyone up until the July convention, so counting anybody out at this point would be foolish, particularly given the massive crowds and record crowdfunding that Bernie has managed to call upon. It's true that the American political discourse is so deeply to the right that it would seem strange if Sanders were to make it to the general election. He is avowedly for putting firm limits on capitalism and environmental abuse. He sees society as a collective project and says out loud that Palestinians deserve freedom and that Black Lives Matter. Those were all positions that the Clinton camp came into the race disregarding, disagreeing with or dismissing as bad politics. It's true that no matter who wins, the American people will have to organize movements to push those in office to act for a better world, and it's true that Hillary Clinton is better than Republicans on issues like safe and healthy abortion access, and she would probably pick better judges to sit on the supreme court. But beyond that, in issues of policy, both foreign and domestic, Clinton might make a good manager in the current reality, but since when does the Left simply want to manage the current violent and exploitative reality? The loudest voices are trying to tell voters that the race is over and it's time to get real, but there's a lot of room between now and the nomination. And don't forget that Sanders does better against the GOP in poll after poll. American voters should raise their voices for the candidate they want to see win in these primaries, not the one they're told is going to win.
I originally wrote this for, and presented it on, the i24news show "Road to the White House." You can see the segment is here!
There are a growing number of violent outbreaks taking place in Trump's wake and the blank stare of the news cameras are worrying to say the least. For months, media have been capturing Trump's calls to violence, the racist atmosphere he has created, and his dangerous proposals with little comment. The story being told, of Trump and Sanders as two sides of a coin, both outsiders with an angry message for the political elite is nowhere near reality. They aren't even the same currency. Sanders has been firing folks up - whether you agree with him or not - with a package of policies that are aimed at raising up the tired, poor and huddled masses, while Trump has been feeding the flames of fear and shopping a tax plan to help the wealthy just a little bit more. Media reactions to Trump's racism and sexism have been mild and ultimately wrong-headed in their attempts at neutrality and just a few journalists are talking about it. I mean, even with endorsements from noted white supremacist anti-Semites, ostensibly Pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC feels comfortable inviting him to speak at their annual conference. That's because no matter what Trump says or does the only consequences are being felt by his targets. There are times when journalists need to speak out about what we witness. It's time to act like a free press. That doesn't mean we ought to limit free speech, or present opinion as fact. It does, however, mean standing up for truth in the face of lies, holding up an ethic of inclusion, and naming danger when it is clear and present.
I originally wrote this for, and presented it on, the i24news show "Road to the White House."
The New Yorker magazine ran a story in its March 7, 2016 issue on a $30,000 a year private school called AltSchool that has sprouted up in Silicon Valley and Brooklyn Heights and leans heavily on technology and individualized learning. It is a for-profit enterprise that is gathering data on kids, which, on the surface, it say is to help quantify interests, and information. There is a serious problem with the idea that everything from personal growth to poetry is quantifiable on a spreadsheet. It's not, and the very notion sucks the creativity out of learning and life. Though the teachers seem have incredible space to be creative with their day to day (something that is seriously missing from most educational spaces), this school has, at the end of the day, a bottom line and part of their plan seems to be to achieve that bottom line by entering the classrooms of the United States public schools and then they want to move on to the learning spaces of the world.
The biggest problem, though, may be that AltSchool's ceilings are filled with surveillance cameras and microphones that they say help teachers look back at "breakthrough" moments throughout the day and learn more about their learners and classrooms. They say they are preparing kids for the workplaces of the future. Far from challenging students to think critically about our societies, this will only serve to prepare kids for the frightening and constant surveillance we all endure in industrialized countries today. Their growth will likely be deeply stunted as they internalize the fact that this for-profit enterprise is deciding whether they pass or fail each step of the way, and given that they are always watching, it is best for the 4 year old or 14 year old to never, ever step out of line.
Here is how the article describes the surveillance:
This originally appeared in The Forward in print and on the website.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders must have cringed when the name of his mystery kibbutz finally came to light last week. Almost as soon as the world found out where he had stayed after finishing his undergraduate degree in 1963, right-wing blogs started up the spin machine with the intent of tagging Sanders as a “Marxist revolutionary,” and left-wing blogs attacked him for being part of a kibbutz that had been founded on Palestinian land.
But instead of shrinking away from this story, Sanders should embrace the kibbutz narrative and, in fact, place it front and center in his campaign.
The New York State Senate passed "BILL S6378A" earlier this month, which attempts to shut down calls for boycotts on a number of so-called "allied nations". The list of nations includes members of NATO, signatories of the Southeast Asia Treaty, and Rio Treaty (excluding Venezuela - which is already on the United States' 'bad guy' list), as well as Israel, Japan, South Korea,and Ireland.
The bill - one of many introduced in recent years across the United States as calls to boycott Israel have grown - takes aim at the First Amendment, U.S. anti-occupation activists and all those calling for a boycott of an 'ally', as well as any areas it controls. This means that it covers those calling for a total boycott, including the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, which calls for a boycott of Israel. It also covers those calling for a boycott of goods made in Israeli settlements and outposts in occupied territories.
Everyone found to be involved in boycotting allies and businesses located on their territory or territory they "control" will be included on a state comptroller-kept blacklist. This list would include folks like Peter Beinart, who teaches at CUNY and who has called for "Zionist" boycott to "save Israel". So, just to be clear, the legislation seeks to stamp out support for the generally mainstream (in Israel and Jewish communities around the world), decades old Israeli-led boycott of settlement goods. Sounds like an anti-Israel (maybe even Anti-Semitic) law to me! Okay, too much.
According to the bill a boycott:
With images on Israeli screens of wedding guests and Palestinian teens, wielding knives and eyes aiming to kill, I walk through Jaffa and South Tel Aviv with my hood on and headphones in, listening to the history of debt – a book on tape – and passersby pass by me, and look scared of me, without a full view of my face. Some of them must think I’m a monster willing to do anything, and some of them must guess that I’m on their side.
It’s unclear if I’ve ever been viewed this way before. There is terror in those eyes and nearly everyone feels it. Terror at the sight of a human being is a learned response. Images, experience and text books teach them that fear is the root of hate and the plant that grows is mandatory at celebrations of their pain and lamentations of our own.
This short story originally appeared as a chapter of my Thesis for my Master's degree, called 'Education, Community and Social Change'. It is the first piece of three pieces of short fiction that appear in the work. The third story is here. The three essays included in this work are here, here, and here.
This is a story about Mr. Paddle. Of course, one should not forget Jerry in all of this. At this time, Mr. Paddle was a young and very average teacher. In fact, he had only been teaching for two years since graduating from teacher’s college. Today he turned 27 years old and wondered out loud, as he cleaned up the pieces of the day’s lesson, why he had become a teacher in the first place.
No one was there to hear him on that cool spring day. School had ended more than an hour ago and all the learners had headed off to community service time. It was one in the afternoon, and Mr. Paddle wondered what he should do with his day. Birthdays bothered him. They didn’t always. Once upon a time he made a point of doing something fun – and usually by himself – every year, but these last two years had changed that. Mr. Paddle had had plenty of friends once upon a time, but these days he didn’t do much but teach his classes, sit at this or that café, and read poetry – which he only became interested in over the last two years. Mr. Paddle took part in a few other activities: some he enjoyed, while others were just things he did. He wasn’t sad. He was just trying to make sense of, and get comfortable with where he was.
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