Monthly Archives: December 2008

Gaza as Distraction

obamaWe cannot cannot cannot excuse them. But looking for distractions after several days of Gaza watching might be inevitable … Look what they done to the Dignity boat (from Al Jazeera). Was that meant to distract us from the atocities? … Richard Falk come back, why have you gone off air after calling it this morning on the world service ['a shocking series of atrocities by using modern weaponry against a defenceless population - attacking a population that has been enduring a severe blockade for many months' <here>]. Maybe we can have maths as a diversion = Do we now have an equation – submit the numbers of dead to calculus – 345 Palestinians, 4 Israeli’s = 1::85 ? This is horrible. And in the meantime, as has been pointed out elsewhere, the US President Elect is trying to channel George Bush’s dad (remember how he also confused Golf with Gulf?). Oh “Yes we can” – shhhh.

So, distractions are clearly needed since we have been here before… If you do not fancy golf, you could profitably spend a moment looking at Ted Swedenburg’s hillarious post on Condi’s trinkets (anthropologists never really get over that Gift/Kula/Malinowski/Mauss/Hau theme huh). See it here. Thanks Ted. It is the bling that makes it obscene.

Gaza by Ewa

natlogIn the days before blogs/trinkets I used to circulate reports from Palestine by a former student from Goldsmiths Ewa Jasiewicz.  Years later, but soon after Aki Nawaz (from FDM/Nation – logo adjacent, documentary film currently in production) had been on one of the first boats to run the Israeli sea blockade of Gaza, Ewa arranged that I might be able go on the fifth boat. I’m afraid I am the wrong sort of doctor for the moment, and the youngster Emile is a bit young for such adventures just yet anyways. But Ewa is up for it and adds to the many amazing things she’s done since leaving Goldsmiths (about ten years ago).  Since she is now in Palestine again, you can follow her on Gaza Friends.

Here is the first of what I expect will be many varied and worthwhile reports:

Gaza today: ‘This is only the beginning’
By Ewa Jasiewicz

As I write this, Israeli jets are bombing the areas of Zeitoun and Rimal
in central Gaza City. The family I am staying with has moved into the
internal corridor of their home to shelter from the bombing. The windows
nearly blew out just five minutes ago as a massive explosion rocked the
house. Apache’s are hovering above us, whilst F16s sear overhead.

UN radio reports say one blast was a target close to the main gate of Al
Shifa hospital – Gaza and Palestine’s largest medical facility. Another
was a plastics factory. More bombs continue to pound the Strip.

Sirens are wailing on the streets outside. Regular power cuts that plunge
the city into blackness every night and tonight is no exception. Only
perhaps tonight it is the darkest night people have seen here in their
lifetimes.

Over 220 people have been killed and over 400 injured through attacks that
shocked the strip in the space 15 minutes. Hospitals are overloaded and
unable to cope. These attacks come on top of existing conditions of
humanitarian crisis: a lack of medicines, bread, flour, gas, electricity,
fuel and freedom of movement.

Doctors at Shifaa had to scramble together 10 make shift operating
theatres to deal with the wounded. The hospital’s maternity ward had to
transform their operating room into an emergency theatre. Shifaa only had
12 beds in their intensive care unit, they had to make space for 27 today.

There is a shortage of medicine – over 105 key items are not in stock, and
blood and spare generator parts are desperately needed.

Shifaa’s main generator is the life support machine of the entire
hospital. It’s the apparatus keeping the ventilators and monitors and
lights turned on that keep people inside alive. And it doesn’t have the
spare parts it needs, despite the International Committee for the Red
Cross urging Israel to allow it to transport them through Erez checkpoint.

Shifaa’s Head of Casualty, Dr Maowiye Abu Hassanyeh explained, ‘We had
over 300 injured in over 30 minutes. There were people on the floor of the
operating theatre, in the reception area, in the corridors; we were
sending patients to other hospitals. Not even the most advanced hospital
in the world could cope with this number of casualties in such a short
space of time.’

And as IOF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenaz said this
morning, ‘This is only the beginning.’

But this isn’t the beginning, this is an ongoing policy of collective
punishment and killing with impunity practised by Israel for decades. It
has seen its most intensified level today. But the weight of dread,
revenge and isolation hangs thick over Gaza today. People are all asking:
If this is only the beginning, what will the end look like?

11.30am
Myself and Alberto Acre, a Spanish journalist, had been on the border
village of Sirej near Khan Younis in the south of the strip. We had driven
there at 8am with the mobile clinic of the Union of Palestinian Relief
Committees. The clinic regularly visits exposed, frequently raided
villages far from medical facilities.  We had been interviewing residents
about conditions on the border. Stories of olive groves and orange groves,
family farmland, bulldozed to make way for a clear line of sight for
Israeli occupation force watch towers and border guards. Israeli attacks
were frequent. Indiscriminate fire and shelling spraying homes and land on
the front line of the south eastern border. One elderly farmer showed us
the grave-size ditch he had dug to climb into when Israeli soldiers would
shoot into his fields.

Alberto was interviewing a family that had survived an Israeli missile
attack on their home last month. It had been a response to rocket fire
from resistance fighters nearby. Four fighters were killed in a field by
the border. Israel had rained rockets and M16 fire back. The family,
caught in the crossfire, have never returned to their home.

I was waiting for Alberto to return when ground shaking thuds tilted us
off our feet. This was the sound of surface to air fired missiles and F16
bombs slamming into the police stations, and army bases of the Hamas
authority here. In Gaza City , in Diere Balah, Rafah, Khan Younis, Beit
Hanoon.

We zoomed out of the village in our ambulance, and onto the main road to
Gaza City , before jumping out to film the smouldering remains of a police
station in Diere Balah, near Khan Younis. Its’ name – meaning ‘place of
dates’ – sounds like the easy semi-slang way of saying ‘take care’, Diere
Bala, Diere Balak – take care.

Eyewitnesses said two Israeli missiles had destroyed the station. One had
soared through a children’s playground and a busy fruit and vegetable
market before impacting on its target.

Civilians Dead
There was blood on a broken plastic yellow slide, and a crippled, dead
donkey with an upturned vegetable cart beside it. Aubergines and
splattered blood covered the ground. A man began to explain in broken
English what had happened. ‘It was full here, full, three people dead,
many many injured’. An elderly man with a white kuffiyeh around his head
threw his hands down to his blood drenched trousers. ‘Look! Look at this!
Shame on all governments, shame on Israel, look how they kills us, they
are killing us and what does the world do? Where is the world, where are
they, we are being killed here, hell upon them!’ He was a market trader,
present during the attack.

He began to pick up splattered tomatoes he had lost from his cart, picking
them up jerkily, and putting them into plastic bags, quickly. Behind a
small tile and brick building, a man was sitting against the wall, his
legs were bloodied. He couldn’t get up and was sitting, visibly in pain
and shock, trying to adjust himself, to orientate himself.

The police station itself was a wreck, a mess of criss-crossed piles of
concrete – broken floors upon floors. Smashed cars and a split palm tree
split the road.

We walked on, hurriedly, with everyone else, eyes skyward at four apache
helicopters – their trigger mechanisms supplied by the UK ’s
Brighton-Based EDM Technologies. They were dropping smoky bright flares –
a defence against any attempt at Palestinian missile retaliation.

Turning down the road leading to the Diere Balah Civil Defence Force
headquarters we suddenly saw a rush of people streaming across the road.
‘They’ve been bombing twice, they’ve been bombing twice’ shouted people.

We ran too, but towards the crowds and away from what could possibly be
target number two, ‘a ministry building’ our friend shouted to us. The
apaches rumbled above.

Arriving at the police station we saw the remains of a life at work
smashed short. A prayer matt clotted with dust, a policeman’s hat, the
ubiquitous bright flower patterned mattresses, burst open. A crater around
20 feet in diameter was filled with pulverised walls and floors and a
motorbike, tossed on its’ side, toy-like in its’ depths.

Policemen were frantically trying to get a fellow worker out from under
the rubble. Everyone was trying to call him on his Jawwal. ‘Stop it
everyone, just one, one of you ring’ shouted a man who looked like a
captain. A fire licked the underside of an ex-room now crushed to just 3
feet high. Hands alongside hands rapidly grasped and threw back rocks,
blocks and debris to reach the man.

We made our way to the Al Aqsa Hospital. Trucks and cars loaded with the
men of entire families – uncles, nephews, brothers – piled high and
speeding to the hospital to check on loved ones, horns blaring without
interruption.

Hospitals on the brink
Entering Al Aqsa was overwhelming, pure pandemonium, charged with grief,
horror, distress, and shock. Limp blood covered and burnt bodies streamed
by us on rickety stretchers. Before the morgue was a scrum, tens of
shouting relatives crammed up to its open double doors. ‘They could not
even identify who was who, whether it is their brother or cousin or who,
because they are so burned’ explained our friend. Many were transferred,
in ambulances and the back of trucks and cars to Al Shifa Hospital.

The injured couldn’t speak. Causality after casualty sat propped against
the outside walls outside, being comforted by relatives, wounds
temporarily dressed. Inside was perpetual motion and the more drastically
injured. Relatives jostled with doctors to bring in their injured in
scuffed blankets. Drips, blood streaming faces, scorched hair and shrapnel
cuts to hands, chests, legs, arms and heads dominated the reception area,
wards and operating theatres.

We saw a bearded man, on a stretcher on the floor of an intensive care
unit, shaking and shaking, involuntarily, legs rigid and thrusting
downwards. A spasm coherent with a spinal chord injury. Would he ever walk
again or talk again? In another unit, a baby girl, no older than six
months, had shrapnel wounds to her face. A relative lifted a blanket to
show us her fragile bandaged leg. Her eyes were saucer-wide and she was
making stilted, repetitive, squeaking sounds.

A first estimate at Al Aqsa hospital was 40 dead and 120 injured. The
hospital was dealing with casualties from the bombed market, playground,
Civil Defence Force station, civil police station and also the traffic
police station. All leveled. A working day blasted flat with terrifying
force.

At least two shaheed (martyrs) were carried out on stretchers out of the
hospital. Lifted up by crowds of grief-stricken men to the graveyard to
cries of ‘La Illaha Illa Allah,’ there is not god but Allah.

Who cares?
And according to many people here, there is nothing and nobody looking out
for them apart from God. Back in Shifa Hospital tonight, we meet the
brother of a security guard who had had the doorway he had been sitting in
and the building – Abu Mazen’s old HQ – fall down upon his head. He said
to us, ‘We don’t have anyone but God. We feel alone. Where is the world?
Where is the action to stop these attacks?’

Majid Salim, stood beside his comatosed mother, Fatima. Earlier today she
had been sitting at her desk at work – at the Hadije Arafat Charity, near
Meshtal, the Headquarters of the Security forces in Gaza City. Israel’s
attack had left her with multiple internal and head injuries, tube down
her throat and a ventilator keeping her alive. Majid gestured to her, ‘We
didn’t attack Israel, my mother didn’t fire rockets at Israel. This is the
biggest terrorism, to have our mother bombarded at work’.

The groups of men lining the corridors of the over-stretched Shifaa
hospital are by turns stunned, agitated, patient and lost. We speak to one
group. Their brother had both arms broken and has serious facial and head
injuries. ‘We couldn’t recognise his face, it was so black from the
weapons used’ one explains. Another man turns to me and says. ‘I am a
teacher. I teach human rights – this is a course we have, ‘human rights’.
He pauses. ‘How can I teach, my son, my children, about the meaning of
human rights under these conditions, under this siege?’

It’s true, UNRWA and local government schools have developed a Human
Rights syllabus, teaching children about international law, the Geneva
Conventions, the International Declaration on Human Rights, The Hague
Regulations. To try to develop a culture of human rights here, to help
generate more self confidence and security and more of a sense of dignity
for the children. But the contradiction between what should be adhered to
as a common code of conducted signed up to by most states, and the
realities on the ground is stark. International law is not being applied
or enforced with respect to Israeli policies towards the Gaza Strip, or on
’48 Palestine, the West Bank, or the millions of refugees living in camps
in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

How can a new consciousness and practice of human rights ever graduate
from rhetoric to reality when everything points to the contrary – both
here and in Israel ? The United Nations have been spurned and shut out by
Israel , with Richard Falk the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights
held prisoner at Ben Gurion Airport before being unceremoniously deported
this month – deliberately blinded to the abuses being carried out against
Gaza by Israel . An international community which speaks empty phrases on
Israeli attacks ‘we urge restraint…minimise civilian casualties’.

The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated regions on the planet.
In Jabbaliya camp alone, Gaza ’s largest, 125,000 people are crowded into
a space 2km square. Bombardment by F16s and Apaches at 11.30 in the
morning, as children leave their schools for home reveals a contempt for
civilian safety as does the 18 months of a siege that bans all imports and
exports, and has resulted in the deaths of over 270 people as a result of
a lack of access to essential medicines.

A light
There is a saying here in Gaza – we spoke about it, jokily last night. ‘At
the end of the tunnel…there is another tunnel’. Not so funny when you
consider that Gaza is being kept alive through the smuggling of food, fuel
and medicine through an exploitative industry of over 1000 tunnels running
from Egypt to Rafah in the South. On average 1-2 people die every week in
the tunnels. Some embark on a humiliating crawl to get their education,
see their families, to find work, on their hands and knees. Others are
reportedly big enough to drive through.

Last night I added a new ending to the saying. ‘At the end of the tunnel,
there is another tunnel and then a power cut’. Today, there’s nothing to
make a joke about. As bombs continue to blast buildings around us, jarring
the children in this house from their fitful sleep, the saying could take
on another twist. After today’s killing of over 200, is it that at the end
of the tunnel, there is another tunnel, and then a grave?’, or a wall of
international governmental complicity and silence?

There is a light through, beyond the sparks of resistance and solidarity
in the West Bank, ’48 and the broader Middle East. This is a light of
conscience turned into activism by people all over the world. We can turn
a spotlight onto Israel’s crimes against humanity and the enduring
injustice here in Palestine, through coming out onto the streets and
pressurizing our governments; demanding an end to Israeli apartheid and
occupation, broadening our call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, and
for a genuine Just Peace.

Through institutional, governmental and popular means, this can be a light
at the end of the Gazan tunnel.
—–

Ewa Jasiewicz is an experienced journalist, community and union organizer,
and solidarity worker. She is currently Gaza Project Co-coordinator for
the Free Gaza Movement.

http://www.FreeGaza.org

Fragments on Athens

GREEKXMASI received lots of mail on Athens, and of course thought the xmas tree stuff was very seasonal. Ho Ho. The best detailed message (quoted below) came from a close friend whom I’d visited there years ago, en route to Cairo. This year, having enjoyed one of the few Christmases I’ve had in Europe (usually in India or Australia in December, somewhat warmer, though of course not escaping the commercialism) I think the Athens events amount to a jolly expression of hope that says more than the fantastical scenes that will grace the start of 2009 after the Democratactic election in the USA. So, rather a Greek Christmas than the Israeli attacks on Gaza for holiday cheer: 2008’s last post goes to a Greek who says:

“I have to confess that I did feel that the world can’t be so wrong when all these people (of different ages, backgrounds, perceptions) went out in the streets and started going mad (and here I refer to the hoodies smashing banks – to the crowd’s applause – as well as to the grannies who swore at the police). I always remain anti-violence but pro-outrage…”

The original message reads:

“Sorry for the late reply; I returned to Athens a week after the shooting of the 15-year-old and it was still a havoc. I don’t know how one feels when living in a state of war but it did feel like being under siege. I just couldn’t go anywhere; the shops were closed, cars would no longer circulate in the streets, the police were spreading tear gas in a frantic fashion… On top of that, there was the bitter realisation of my age: I am now 30 so there is for the first time in my life the full conscience of “the gap” between myself and the people I grew up with. Half of my friends earn crazy money working for the banks and chains that the other half are smashing with a rage. It was like -apart from the crowd/”anarchists”/hoodies/

terrorist elements and police divide- standing amidst two completely different worlds, one pro-order  and the other against it (both parties with different -and mostly ego-driven if I may say- agendas). So after a few days I decided to leave Athens and make an experiment, that is to switch off my phone and remain phoneless and webless, having the TV news as my only link to what was going on in my neighbourhood (also branded as a “bohemian no-go ghetto area” – please!!!).

It has been a shock, John. The power of the screen, yet again. And the filtering of points of view. And the careful selection of words, demonstration of feelings, sonic accompaniments for the events… I came back to Athens yesterday and started talking to friends and neighbours, checking indymedia and relevant greek sites (btw, for the description of the events indymedia is pretty fair once more), only to realize that the “reality” was completely different to the one propagated by the media.

Apart from the serious bits that we can of course discuss when we see each other next, some trivial observations are these:

- It all started round the corner from where you were photographed next to the “colour TV, black and white life” writing on the wall. Ironically, ten days after the beginning of the events, a group of people occupied the set of the national television’s 3pm news with black banners in white letters reading “Stop watching and go out in the streets”. Which also reminded me of this conversation you had in Athens (back in 2002/3?) with a so-called anarchist who was saying to you “we have to go out in the streets, man!” to which you had impressingly replied at the time “no, we have to get into television! Look around you, people are not out in the streets, they are watching TV”. And this is where the reversal takes place here: people occupy publically-funded TV time to urge us to go out in the streets.

- The police ran out of tear gas (!!!), thus started using expired one. The latest I’ve heard was from a friend who, during a rally, discovered a used tear gas can that had expired in 1987! Also, two days ago the syndicate of Exarcheia residents decided to officially sue the greek government for the inconsiderate and extreme use of tear gas in the area.

- Old people went out in the streets and “attacked” the police with their walking sticks while swearing at them for misuse of authority. And this is partly the images that we never get to see on TV or the internet: the maddening “crowd” is not just teenagers and 20somethings that want to smash everything but also middle-aged and old people who are simply outraged.

- Thirty members of the police force constantly guard the Christmas tree in the centre of Athens (Syntagma square) after the previous one was intentionally burnt. Quite ironic too, come to think during last summer thousand of acres were burnt thoughout the country (an act of arson, in order to get planning permission to build in areas previously designated as forest conservation areas) and nobody was there at the time to extinguish the fire.

I still have no clearly formed opinion about what is going on. It definately started not as an act of violence but as one of outrage, that has its roots in events and situations that are only partly related to the work of the police. However, it now feels more like a “revolution for the sake of it” more than anything else. The hoodies smash shop windows and people flood in to get free laptops, shoes, clothes etc. Luxury cars are left in the midst of the police/”anarchists” war in order to get them burnt so that they can claim their full money back from the insurance (whereas if they sold them they would only get half the money). Shop owners state huge damages in order to make some money on the side. In general, it tends to become a repetition of the greek attitude of “let’s earn something out of it at least”. I am not saying that there is no meaning in all this any more, only that the more it becomes institutionalised (if one can say that) the more its initial focus is lost”

I of course asked if I could post all this here. Good reply:

“you can post a version of this “report” but please make it clear that I am not attempting to interpret things or offer the general picture (I ‘ve had enough of people giving their own and only valid general picture of the events -while promoting their own agendas and even living in different cities while pretending to have a very clear opinion of what “Exarcheia at war” [sic] feels like- and my aim here is definately not that), only to share the way I see some fragments of the situation”.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Education is not an unthinkable good.

11-08-05_1607Rewritten in Taipei: (conference and seminars great, city unseen because of flu, rest of the paper in due course):

Education is not an unthinkable good.

They have something of which they are very proud. They call it culture. It distinguishes them from the goatherders – Nietzsche, from the fifth section of part one of Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

How might we prepare ourselves for collective thinking that is not fear? There has been quite some discussion of late about new initiatives in education, which is fine, remembering that Adorno insisted that education had to combat totalitarianism. New thinking is what we require if we are to think at all. This coda is however less ambitious: Irit Rogoff’s comments on two tendencies in education in Europe perhaps deserve a few remarks. Rogoff mentions both the Bologna Process aiming at some sort of compatibility conversion coherence across degree offerings in the EU countries, and a second tendency which amounts to a proliferation of self-organising Arts School formations, or what Florian Schneider calls ‘non-aligned initiatives converging around “education”’. Education here is becoming a ‘model’ for various initiatives, where the key terms are, it seems to me, recitations: ‘new methods’, new initiatives, new models, ‘radical pedagogy’, ‘collaborative work’ and proposals ‘to change the terms of the debate away from a purely bureaucratic engagement with quantitative and administrative demands and from the ongoing tendency to privatize knowledge as so-called “intellectual property”’ (Rogoff at Goldsmiths College, May 2007). So far so good. I guess. I do not see this as very much different from the training programmes that so concerned the writers of the Factory Inspectorate reports cited by Marx in Capital.

Coming from engaged colleagues, of course these ideas are welcome and we have a lot of ground on which to agree. The problem is that when we think of Education as a model, I want to reach for my gun. What is it to promote education as a model in the new economy – creative economy, culture industry – context of the abstracted immaterial multitudinous spaces of net-activism et al? I am not convinced. There is a critical component missing in the contest of total war, and where the Internet and other networking 2.0, new compatibilities, initiatives and formations are the advance thinking of a new distanciation, new discretizations.

Here, for example, a key sentence I would like to discuss:

The model of education has become central to a range of creative artistic practices and to a renewed interest in radical pedagogy. As a mode of thinking an alternative to the immense dominance of art as commodity and display as spectacle, education as a creative practice that involves process, experimentation, fallibility and potentiality by definition, offers a non-conflictual model for a rethinking of the cultural field. (Education Summit website)

It seems to me that there are several things going on here. Not all of them thought through as radically as they might be. Forget the ‘non-conflictual model’ since this is relegated to the cultural field and we know that class conflicts are not only operating there. The ‘thinking as alternative’ to art really does grab me. An alternative to commodified art, though, would be what? Fabulous possibilities distract me – Popular votes on which pictures hang on the walls. The Tate Modern emptied out. No more National Gallery souvenir postcards. Free access, and free coffee, to all museums? No, that is not what is meant – what we have is a renewal of experimentation, creative practices, process and potential? Although interestingly the word ‘fallibility’ cuts diagonally across these invigorating, but you have to admit, fairly standard educationalist terms, I am not concerned too much with the threat this model will pose to commodification and the war machine. Confined to the cultural field or not, this is, surely, just what the smartest employers want – new thinking, new opportunities, renewal all round.

Rather, it seems to me, the model of education needs to be reimagined, since this kind of modelling is perhaps one of the main ways in which the promotion of education is a promotion of some pretty old modes of thinking. This thinking is smuggled in at the very moment that it claims to be new. A radical pedagogy in a context where education is seen as a good model, is still education that has not thought through the ways this very model operates to train operatives for hierarchy within the cultural economy and hierarchical society, the global war economy, at large. Education as a model has not yet thought through the ways education is not simply or unproblematically a social good.

Perhaps there is another way of telling; someone (like Scheherazade) might be forgiven for insisting that education is more often about affirmations and consolidation of Eurocentric, patriarchal, hierarchical class-based, systems of Fortress exclusion. The playground as learning curve, leaning towards the tuck shop, the in-group, the out-group, the fashion parade, the Cinderella School for Creative Types, the finishing School for corporate dining, the Endomol drill surveillance routines, the preparatory sessions for international diplomacy, the Spooks complex, the God complex, the military formation, alpha drones, beta drones, innovation and incubation centres, career prospects CV padding, weapons research, cultural studies clubs and Diners’ Club, life skills, open day, recruitment programs, D-Day invasions and the consolidation of Democracy. Are we there yet? – these and many more ‘lessons’.

I totally agree that the old collegiate model of Education should not be protected, worn and frayed as it is. But to renovate that model with a ‘radical pedagogy’ without questioning the projected model as model is also suspect. For conflict then. For telling stories of a possible delinking from Capital, for breaking the divisions between those inside and outside since the old model and the new model can also prepare the ground for even greater commodification, commercialization. What if we saw education as a Trojan Horse for exactly that old enemy, and then looked for ways to tow the thing out to the beach and burn it down. We’ll tell stories round the fire.

Everyone needs a good saboteur with a sting in the tale.

You ‘still believe in Grammar’ – Friedrich Nietzsche.


New Schools for Old

exile_logoI’m posting this for Imogen, among others….

Subject: Update on New School University sit-in/occupation going on — support needed!

Solidarity statements can be sent to newschoolinexile@newschoolblog.org

This from the New School in Exile Occupation
http://www.newschoolinexile.com/

12:00 noon update, 12/18/08:

Students have just expanded the occupation to control one sidedoor exit at
the occupation, and President Kerrey just showed up a little before noon.
NYPD police have showed up and begun trying to arrest people at the side
entrance (13th st.) of the building. Witnesses report at least two people
were dragged out onto 13th street and there was as least one person
confirmed arrested.

**

New School in Exile Occupation

The original idea of the University in Exile, and the New School in
general, was to be a safe-haven for academic freedom and scholarship free
of oppressive political regimes, be they in Europe or America, and to be a
center for critical engagement with important issues of our times. It was
known for its deep thinkers, its innovative academics, and its committment
to social and political justice as a bedrock of all other scholarship. The
New School, under its current administration, is no longer able to fulfill
that role of critical engagement and dissent. This continued betryal of
our founding principles cannot be tolerated any longer, and the time has
come to revive the University in Exile. This is a call for student action!

**

Statement to the New School Community

We have successfully occupied the Graduate Faculty student building (65
5th Avenue) and established a student space. We are in control of this
building, and counter to any claims by the administration, they have not
“let us stay.” We have taken over this building and are actively occupying
it. Come join us!

Statement to New School Workers

We wish to state publicly to the New School janitorial, clerical and
related union staff (UNITE HERE! Local 100 and other locals) that we
support you and wish to ally with you. We also ask you to respect the
strike and occupation that the students have called and taken in the 65
5th Ave. building, and hope you will join efforts to improve the
university for all of us, students, teachers and workers. If there are
demands or issues you would like us to help voice, please bring them to
students.

Notice to Consortium Students

You are welcome to join our occupation, and we strongly encourage you to
join us. However, the university administration and security have
unilaterally refused to allow other consortium students into the building
without any reason. This is a direct violation of the Consortium agreement
and is another attempt by the administration to claim they are “allowing”
us to be here.

**

Demands of the Occupation

* The removal of Bob Kerrey as president of our university

* The removal of James Murtha as executive vice president of our university

* Students, faculty, and staff elect the president, EVP, and Provost.

* Students are part of the interim committee to hire a provost.

* The removal of Robert B. Millard as treasurer of the board of trustees.

* Intelligible transparency and disclosure of the university budget and
investments.

* The creation of a committee on socially responsible investments.

* The immediate suspension of capital improvement projects like the
tearing down of 65 fifth Ave.

* Instead, money towards the creation of an autonomous student space.
* Instead, money towards scholarships and reducing tuition.
* Instead, money for the library and student life generally.

**

An Open Letter: Come Occupy a Building with Us…Now

Dear Friends,

We are writing to you from the inside of the New School Graduate Faculty
Building on 65 5th Ave. We are occupying it. Right now. Literally.
Students of the New School University, along with our partners from other
universities and groups–like NYU, Hunter College, City College of NY,
CUNY Graduate Center, and Borough of Manhattan Community College, have
organically risen up to demand the resignation of President Bob Kerrey,
Executive Vice President James Murtha, and Board Member/torturer Robert B.
Millard (he multi-tasks). We have come together to prevent our study
spaces from being flattened by corporate bulldozers, to have a say in who
runs this school, to demand that the money we spend on this institution be
used to facilitate the creation of a better society, not to build bigger
buildings or invest in companies that make war. We have come here not only
to make demands, but also to live them. Our presence makes it clear that
this school is ours, and yours, if you are with us.

The outside doors have been closed now, so we can’t exactly invite you
in…sorry… We know you wanted a piece of the action, but we’ll be around
for quite some time. Join us at 7 AM tomorrow when the doors open again,
or come now to stand outside with a sign in solidarity. You are cordially
invited to join us in any way you can. We are not going anywhere. In the
meantime, check out our Web site: www.newschoolinexile.com. We have all
night to make things interesting, and the website will continue to be
updated. Stay tuned for the musical pieces, doctoral dissertations, and
creative finger-paintings that seem to be the natural result of 150
students locked into a building together for a night.

We are here, making decisions collectively, doing teach-ins, listening to
music, studying, singing. We’ve got an upright bassist, guitarists and
vocalists (If anyone can volunteer a drum-set we’ll be well on our way…).
We’ll be here until this university changes, or until the party gets
boring (but it doesn’t seem likely that will happen). We’re not going
anywhere. We hope to see you soon, and if you really can’t wait a few
hours–what the hell–occupy your own universities or work spaces.

Come use your voice to declare loudly that this school and this world are
yours. Come use your mind to think up a better world. Come use your body
to create it, one all-nighter in the university cafeteria at a time. Come
stand in solidarity with the students, faculty, and staff of this
university. Come to write letters of support to the people of the village
of Thanh Phong whose parents were murdered by the current President of the
New School during his service in Vietnam. Come join the struggle with the
people of Iraq who are being tortured and killed by a company funded by
this university and represented on the New School Board of Trustees. Come
here to join the uprisings and outpouring of passionate resistance
currently taking place all over this country, and all over the world–from
factory workers in Chicago to students in Greece. Come for yourself. Come
for all of us.

In solidarity,
The New School in Exile

**

“funny how the ‘trickle-down’ is so much more effective when it’s the redistribution of loss” -IT

img_7678Eating hot soup in my Taipei room at 5am, aircon and airlines contrived to make this visit feel like a crash landing, but the paper went well – I think, and I’m told – even if Andrew Strathern’s response spun off into the anthropological-inevitable, ritual, Victor Turner, Rene Girard, Gregory Bateson and other similarly bongo bongo themes (I was talking about machines, war and education, but it was at an anthropology conference – I will post a link to the paper soon). Yet there was a good discussion – Andrew’s small aside chastising me for saying indexicality was finally broken by CGI (= Computer Generated Imaging for orthodox anthros who should get out more) was perhaps the most interesting part of the response and generated some hostile comments from the floor. He’d missed the point that I reported this as someone else’s view – but it was fun to argue that indexicality was always broken, always subject to question for its partiality, metaphoricity (see Miller – The Reason of Politics) and that I’d like him (Andrew) to explain to me why translation wasn’t a more relevant word here. Yes, we got that obscure. But I was talking about education, sort of like here, but also something like what is well done by IT here. Examining the cost of fluctuations of the economic cycle upon our practices in the teaching factory/sausage factory is perhaps a good way to find resonant and relevant explanations of what is going on. We can say this to students in ways that might have more ‘purchase’ than abstract News-reporter chatter about bail-outs, bank rates and house-prices. Trickle, Crash and Crisis are in the end quite empty – not indexical – metaphors for the economic ‘downturn’ and the inevitable squeeze on those not resource-able enough to resist the vampire sucking, body-stealing, asset stripping zombie stomp of capital eating its young in order to survive. See the crisis bite next time you are asked by the vice-chancellor to tighten your belt – Ho Chi Minh was told something similar by Mao when he had asked for help from China during the war. Tighten your belts, Mao said. Send us belts, Uncle Ho replied.

The pic is from the WLA – a prize for working out what that has to do with the index.

Jean Charles de Menezes

target_small1You can read the verdict and see the press conference by the family campaign on the website at the end of this press release:

Press statement from the family:
Friday, 12 December 2008

Press statement by the family of Jean Charles de Menezes, the campaign and their lawyers Birnberg Peirce following the jury’s verdict

“Today is a very important day for our family and campaign for justice. We have spoken to Jean’s family in Brazil and they like us feel vindicated by the jury’s verdict. The jury’s verdict is a damning indictment of the multiple failures of the police and the lies they told. It is clear from the verdict today that the jury could have gone further had they not been gagged by the Coroner. We maintain that Jean Charles de Menezes was unlawfully killed” – Patricia Armani Da Silva, cousin of Jean Charles on behalf of all of the family.

The family’s legal team argued that evidence heard by the jury provided sufficient grounds for the jury to return unlawful killing (murder) in respect of the two police shooters, C12 and C2 as well unlawful killing (gross negligence manslaughter) in respect of the actions of three of the command team. We also submitted that, in accordance with Article 2 (ECHR) the jury should be permitted to return a meaningful narrative verdict that could identify all the police failings that caused or contributed to the death of Jean Charles de Menezes.

The five legal teams representing supposedly separate interests of the police combined ranks to oppose our submissions, maintain that the evidence only supported a lawful killing or open verdict. The coroner ruled in favour of the police. As a consequence the family sought to challenge the decision, lodging an urgent application at the High Court. Mr Justice Silber considered the challenge in relation to the narrative verdict only but ruled that the coroner had a wide discretion and he would not interfere with his ruling.

The family considered that the coroner had effectively gagged the jury. Any verdict returned by them would have at best limited meaning and would not have the effect of holding the police accountable for any failings. At that stage, having exhausted all legal avenues, the family instructed their legal team to cease participating in the inquest proceedings.

We have lodged grounds to appeal the decision of Mr Justice Silber and our judicial review challenge of the coroner’s decision in respect of unlawful killing remains to be considered.

To date, not one police officer involved has been held personally accountable for failings that led to the death of Jean Charles. In fact the two most senior officers in the command team have been promoted. The law as it stands, effectively provides legal immunity for police officers who shoot innocent people in the cause of protecting the public.

This case raises questions of critical constitutional importance. Should our armed police service be protected from meaningful criticism (let alone criminal sanction) or are the public entitled to go about their day to day business free from the fear that they could be shot dead without warning if mistaken for a suspected terrorist?

For further information and background information visit: inquest.justice4jean.org

Another Taiwan talk I’ll do – 15.12.08

講    題/Sonic Diaspora – the London Underground South Asian Music Video Complex

講    者/Prof. John Hutnyk(Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths University of London)

時    間/97年12月15日(星期一)  14:30~16:30

地    點/民族所新大樓三樓 2319 會議室

☆☆ 歡迎踴躍參加 ☆☆

中央研究院民族學研究所 敬邀

(查詢演講相關資訊,請洽副所長助理李佩珊,Tel:2652-3324)

歷年學術演講列表

97年 (2008)

This talk is on monday 15th. The other talk (now on saturday 13.12.08) is here. Come to both, all new material, no added sugar, does not contain (many) nuts.

Malaysia ISA and Terror

GERAKAN MANSUHKAN ISA
(ABOLISH ISA MOVEMENT)
PRESS STATEMENT: 2ND DECEMBER 2008
ISA itself has served as an instrument of terror of the State

The Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI)/ Abolish ISA Movement (AIM) finds the statement from the deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak that “ISA has protected country from terrorism” (NST 2nd December 2008) and that “the main reason why there have been no serious acts of terrorism in this country is because we have in place the ISA” is baseless and unconvincing.

Now the question is how an Act like the Internal Security Act (ISA) which allows detention without trial can be used as a tool to protect the nation from terrorism? Today, most of the detainees in Kamunting are those who are linked to the JI (Jemaah Islamiyaah) and DI (Darul Islam) movement. Currently there are five alleged JI (Jemaah Islamiyyah) detainees who have been held under the ISA for seven years. They are Suhaimi bin Mokhtar, Abdullah bin Daud, Mat Sah bin Mohd Satray , Shamsuddin bin Sulaiman and Abdul Murad bin Sudin. Many more are being held there for more than 2 to 6 years. Although the government claimed that they have sufficient evidence to show that these detainees are linked to terrorism activities, but until today none of them have been charged in an open court. How then the government can ascertain that these ISA detainees are terrorists without a court trial? Without the scrutiny of the court, how the public can be assured that there is no misuse of powers to detain innocent people?

Is Najib implying that blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Selangor State Exco and Member of Parliament Teresa Kok, Sin Chew Daily’s reporter Tan Hoon Cheng and many more political and civil society activists are all terrorists?

In reality, the ISA itself has served as an instrument of terror of the State and used consistently against dissidents who have defended the democratic and human rights of the Malaysian people. The ISA has been kept in use all this time mainly because it is a very convenient tool at the disposal of the ruling coalition.

Practicing arbitrary arrest and detention without trial by hanging on to an anachronistic law, which was formulated to tackle the emergency situation many decades ago, only disgraces Malaysia in the eyes of the world. The Malaysian government which is also a member of the Human Rights Council should be ashamed for using the barbarian law like ISA, which runs counter to the Federal Constitution and Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

ISA detainees must be given recourse to a fair trial in conformity with international standards of due process and access to full legal representation and family members. If no evidence is found against a detainee, he/she should be released without delay, as holding them indefinitely merely on the basis of suspicion is a blatant violation of due process. This principle should not be compromised in any circumstances. If the Malaysian government objected to the detention of alleged terrorists without trial by the United States at Guantanamo Bay, why then detain alleged terrorists at the Kamunting detention camp in the same way as the United States does?

We strongly urge the government stop the double standards, abolish the ISA and release or charge all the ISA detainees who have been detained without trial under the ISA immediately. The people will continue to struggle until the ISA is repealed completely.

Released By,

Nalini.E

Secretariat GMI

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