Diversity Political


Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I did have a chance to talk with people directly familiar with the SFSU peace rally. Additionally, The Jewish Bulletin provided expanded coverage of the email that generated so much discussion.

I rather liked the Bulletin’s coverage. It makes no apology that it has a bias — it is a Jewish publication. However, within that framework, it seems to go out of its way to present the facts. That has earned my respect and it is a publication I will pay close attention to.

From my understanding, there was unwarranted ugliness, and difficulties associated with the counter-demonstration:

Sophomore Dikla Tuchman, an organizer of the pro-Israel rally, said she and others in her group were cleaning up and saying their goodbyes when the event was “sabotaged” by pro-Palestinians, armed with whistles and bullhorns. Although the rally had ended at 1:30 p.m., Hillel had reserved the campus space until 2 p.m., so “it was still our time” when the pro-Palestinians demanded that the Jewish students clear out, she said.

However, it would seem as if the events weren’t quite as “drastic” as was originally reported:

The conversation was getting heated on both sides,” explained Polidora (SFSU Public Relations Director). “Our goal was to keep everybody safe.”

But Polidora also pointed out that much of what happened is based on perception. “Everyone has a unique perspective depending on where they’re coming from,” she said. “Everyone saw it differently.”

Ultimately, the focus about this event should have been about the positive aspects of the rally:

Cohen (International Hillel’s senior consultant) said he was personally disappointed that the controversy undermines the fact that throughout 90 percent of the day, “this was the most successful rally for peace in Israel at SFSU for years.”

Anti-Semitism is not to be tolerated — I may not agree with the Bulletin’s unqualified support for Isreali policies, but I can agree with it’s battle against anti-Semitism. And based on this, I plan on attending as many of these events as possible in this area, in order to fight anti-Semitism. However, this does not change my viewpoint on the policies inacted in the Middle East — it only reflects what I’ve known and felt all along: that all racism and bigotry, including anti-Semitism is wrong, and to be stopped wherever it occurs.

I’ve also sent the link to the Bulletin’s article to Mike Sanders, Meryl Yourish, and Glenn Reynolds. Considering that the article was written by people who were there and directly involved, I would think that they would be interested in hearing what it says.

I do ask that my interest in finding the truth about this event not be misrepresented. At most I ask you to write that I sought the truth. And printed it when I found it.

End of story.

Diversity Writing

Of kitchen things

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I love reading about everyday things.

Allan talks about a new Sushi restaurant opening in town that uses trolleys to deliver the food. I’m still trying to figure out how this system of food delivery is going to work. I’m visualizing this little trolley racing by, and having to grab food out of it, quickly, before it goes out of reach. However, we’re talking about food — sushi — that doesn’t necessarily grab that easily. In my mind I see nori and rice as well as bits of fish flying hither and yon.

Justin takes a sentimental journey through town and through memory as he prepares for a move. Speaking as one who has lived all over this country, it’s the small things — our barbers, favorite restaurants, and walks — you miss most when you move.

Everyday things.

My interest in reading about everyday things is especially heightened after I read one of Jonathon’s posts about Japanese women’s writing — books by eleventh century women authors. Today he writes about how women’s writing was considered inferior, joryu bungaku:

I would not understand until years later that, consciously or not, Rimer was following a long tradition in Japanese literary criticism which—using terms such as “joryu sakka” (woman writer) and “joryu bungaku” (women’s literature)—places most women writers in a separate (and implicitly inferior) category

A low opinion of women’s writing wasn’t limited to the Japanese; Western civilization also considered women’s writing to be inferior. For instance, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote:

“American is now wholly given over to a d____d mob of scribbling women, and I have no chance of success while the public taste is occupied with their trash — and should be ashamed of myself if I did succeed.”

Though Western women didn’t write in a separate language, as the Japanese women did long ago, they wrote of subjects considered of “lesser importance” — of life and love and everyday things. An indirect reference to this is made in Jury of her Peers, by Susan Glaspell. She wrote:

Nothing here but kitchen things,” he said, with a little laugh for the insignificance of kitchen things.”

Introducing my new weblog tag line: Nothing here but kitchen things…

People Places Political

More on Anti-Semitism in Northern California

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

According to an email I received from the editor, later this afternoon, the Jewish Bulletin of Northern California will have another article related to the Peace Rally at SFSU. You can look for it at the publication’s web site.

In the meantime, the publication did just post an article about an English class being taught at UC Berkeley (SF Gate also published an article on this class). The class, “Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance”, generated a lot of controversy because the teacher, a pro-Palestinian graduate student stated in the course description:

“…This class takes as its starting point the right of Palestinians to fight for their own self-determination. Conservative thinkers are encouraged to seek other sections.”

When I first read this description, I was appalled. That a University known for free thinking would have a class with this disclaimer attached.

Should the class be pulled? If it focuses on the use of writing and rhetoric as it relates to the Middle East, then I don’t believe it should be pulled. A writing class of this nature would not only be interesting, it would be thought provoking as well as useful. However, this applies only if the class looks at the impact of writing and rhetoric from both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

Unfortunately, as the class is titled and according to the political affiliation of the teacher, it promises to be pro-Palestinian biased, and that’s inappropriate considering the venue.

These issues are never black & white, or uncomplicated, are they?


Creative Commons

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

According to Dan Gillmor, the concepts and technology behind Napster are continuing despite the recent resignations and layoffs at the company.

In particular, Gillmor references new organizations and technologies being introduced at the O’Reilly Emerging Technologies Conference this week, including Creative Commons — a non-profit organization dedicated to “…the notion that some people would prefer to share their creative works…”.

Lawrence Lessig is Chair on the Board of Directorys, and technology team members include Lisa Rein and Aaron Swartz, both of whom I have worked with in past and current writing efforts.

What do you think? Would you dedicate your creative effort to the public domain in the interest of sharing? Technologists have been doing this for years with software; now the door opens for creative talents in other fields to share their work.

Will photographers, writers, musicians, and artists in other media buy into this concept?

Creative Commons: A bold new venture.

Political Weblogging


There’s been considerable discussion throughout the weblogging community about a Pro-Israeli peace rally held at SFSU earlier this month.

According to a letter by Professor Laurie Zoloth, Jewish Studies Program Director, a group of pro-Palestinian counter-protestors caused a riot or near-riot at the Rally, physically threatening the Rally members, as well as saying things such as “Hitler didn’t finish the job” and that the “Jews should go back to Europe”.

This is hateful behavior, and saddens me greatly to hear that such things are happening in San Francisco, a city I see as one of the most tolerant in the country.

I’ve also read that we webloggers have a …disdain for the search for the truth. Bluntly, this is an assessment I disagree with. I believe that webloggers have an almost obsessive interest in the “truth” — whatever, we believe it to be.

Whatever we believe it to be.

What is the truth about anti-Semitism in San Francisco and northern California? What is the truth behind the “Shame of SFSU”? Was there a riot? Were Peace Rally members physically threatened? Did the counter-protestors say ugly things such as “Hitler didn’t finish the job?” Did they threaten to kill the Hillel rally members?

I dislike reading such things as the San Francisco Bay area is the new France, because San Francisco is seen as progressively becoming more and more anti-Semitic. I dislike it, but is there truth in this statement?

I remember a pro-Israeli rally held at Justin Hermann Plaza a few blocks from myself only a month or so ago. I remember the smiles of the rally attendees as they left, and how they felt that the rally had gone well. I know this because I walked home just behind a group of them who live in my condo building. As far as I could see, there had been no counter-demonstrations, no slurs, no hatred expressed.

Yet only a few miles away, and a short time later, this incident occurs at SFSU.

What’s happening? What is the truth?

We webloggers have been told that we’ll never supplant professional journalists because we don’t research, we don’t pursue, we don’t investigate. True — we tend to link a lot, instead. And sometimes this isn’t enough.

I have no interest in challenging professional journalists, but I want to find out what’s happening in this city. I want to find out what happened that day in SFSU. I want to hear the stories, and print them in this weblog, and together explore what is “the truth”.

To do this, though, I need help. I need contacts with people in the area — pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian, pro-Peace, or neutral observer. I need contacts with people who were at the SFSU demonstration. If you know of people I should talk to — and I’ve already started the process of contacting people in the last two days — please email me with contact information, or have the people contact me directly.

You say we should seek the truth; I say, you’re right. And I also ask for your help.