ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

November 29, 2012

2012.11.29: RE: Actions on Behalf of Gaza

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 10:23 PM
To: [JB]
Cc: ALAA MEMBERS; 1199 Members
Subject: RE: Actions on Behalf of Gaza

You can be proud that you marched with Dennis Brutus against South African apartheid, and used to have long hair.
You can even chose to believe that “the situations are not at all analogous.”
You don’t have the right to silence those who — like Dennis Brutus in the quote below — disagree with you:
“Performing in Israel at this time is morally equivalent to performing in South Africa during the apartheid era. We all remember how leading Rolling Stones musicians played a prominent role in enforcing a cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa in the 1980’s, and participated in recording the timeless song, Sun City, which had a singular influence on raising public awareness about apartheid and its injustices. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights Prof. John Dugard, and South African government minister Ronnie Kasrils have repeatedly declared, Israel has created a worse system of apartheid than anything that ever existed in South Africa.”
http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=489

From: [JB]
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 9:59 PM
To: Letwin, Michael
Cc: ALAA MEMBERS; 1199 Members
Subject: Re: Actions on Behalf of Gaza

I marched with Dennis Brutus in anti-apartheid rallies in the late 70’s and took his class when I was an undergrad. (I even have a picture of myself with my rally t-shirt….I actually had hair then & it was shoulder length!).
The two situations are not at all analogous. And while nobody can speak for the late Professor Brutus, I have a strong belief that he’d say the same.

On Nov 29, 2012, at 9:52 PM, “Letwin, Michael” wrote:

Please: this isn’t — and never has been — about being “forced” to get unwanted email messages.
If that was the *real* issue, we’d see the same squealing to management about how thousands of other political messages and “non-work” messages “clog” the union discussion list (do I really have to list them?)
If that was the real issue, you’d just delete and/or block messages from people who post things you don’t like. Then you wouldn’t be “annoyed” or “upset” by views you just don’t want to hear.
No, like Israeli government threats against those who admit the Nakba (anti-Palestinian ethnic cleansing in 1948) or who advocate boycotting Israel, this is about an ongoing attempt to ban Palestinian rights from public discourse.
Particularly on a union e-mail list where *everything* else under the sun is widely posted, that’s just dishonest, hypocritical, racist, and shameful. 
Fortunately, it’s also at odds with the free speech clause of our Collective Bargaining Agreement and the best traditions of our unions.
It won’t certainly won’t silence those who speak out for Palestinian rights, any more than it silenced those who — often in the face of similar opposition — have spoken out against racism in this country, South African apartheid or numerous other injustices.

From: [GD]
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 9:19 PM
To: Arafa, Noha
Cc: Letwin, Michael; ALAA MEMBERS; 1199 Members
Subject: RE: Actions on Behalf of Gaza

I have asked, as per our current e-mail policy agreed to by the union and management, to be taken off this list yet I continue to receive these e-mails.  I have been informed that the next step would be to file a complaint with management.  I have agreed to hold off doing so at least until the January meeting so that, hopefully, the union can deal with this issue in-house.
This nonsense with the e-mails really needs to stop.  Its enough already.  The existing policy is a perfect compromise between the right to free speech and the right to be left alone.  Those who want to receive these e-mails can do so and those who don’t want to receive them do not have to.  This policy really needs to be enforced.  Union self-policing would be better, but if that doesn’t work there has to be another way.

From: Arafa, Noha
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 9:01 PM
To: [KB]
Cc: Letwin, Michael; ALAA MEMBERS; 1199 Members
Subject: Re: Actions on Behalf of Gaza

May I ask [K] why is it  the only time you feel “annoyed” enough to complain (while some others either demand censorship or joke) is when the victims are Palestinians?
On Nov 29, 2012, at 8:41 PM, [KB] wrote:

Because these email exchanges about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are really fucking annoying.
At least that’s why I’m frantically responding.

[KB]

Staff Attorney
Bronx CDP
On Nov 29, 2012, at 8:37 PM, “Letwin, Michael” wrote:

Question: why are some of the same people (Pokhart, Bloom, Levy, et al) so frantically trying to forbid contractually-protected free speech on the union e-mail lists when it comes to Palestine (and only Palestine) posting their own political messages to the non-union and management lists below, where no such contractual protection applies?

From: [JB]
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 7:57 PM
To: Tafari, ManI
Cc: Arafa, Noha; CRIMINAL ATTYS ALL
Subject: Re: Actions on Behalf of Gaza

Unless, of course, they do.
Where is our union leadership? It seems to me that this is something that should be dealt with before mid-January.

On Nov 29, 2012, at 7:51 PM, “Tafari, ManI” wrote:

People should not be subjected to union Brothers or Sisters making threats to other Union Sisters accusing them of creating “hostile work enviornments”.

From: Levy, Ezra
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 7:14 PM
To: Meggett, Eric; Pokart, Stephen; Arafa, Noha
Cc: CRIMINAL ATTYS ALL
Subject: Re: Actions on Behalf of Gaza

Noha, it’s not racist to single out Pro-Palestinian protests as subject of complaints. As you are surely aware, people have various thoughts regarding whether Israel’s response was justified or not. Two things are for sure: (1) the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has nothing to do with our jobs; and (2) people should not be subjected to unwanted political e-mails and such e-mails are actionable when they create a hostile work environment.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

From: “Meggett, Eric”
Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2012 15:41:11 -0500
To: Pokart, Stephen; Arafa, Noha
Cc: CRIMINAL ATTYS ALL
Subject: RE: Actions on Behalf of Gaza
really  it’s  only  ” following the  rules ”  that  you  care  about ?      i  wish  i  could  be  that   single  minded  and  focused .  

From: Pokart, Stephen
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 3:38 PM
To: Arafa, Noha
Cc: CRIMINAL ATTYS ALL
Subject: RE: Actions on Behalf of Gaza

Personally, I think it’s racist to single out Israel for killing Arabs and/or Moslems while ignoring Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Somalia, Algeria, Libya, China, India, various emirates and other places.On the other hand, I don’t really care. What I do care about is you and others following the rules, which clearly require you to set up a list of who wishes to receive your e-mails and not communicate with those who don’t. As to  sending the e-mail to Steve Banks, I happen to think he’s a good guy and a hell of a lot better than the other attorneys-in-charge that I have labored under since (probably) before you were born.

From: Arafa, Noha
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 3:15 PM
To: Pokart, Stephen; ALAA MEMBERS
Cc: Banks, Steve; Fox, Allan; Wright, Deborah
Subject: RE: Actions on Behalf of Gaza

First, Mr.. Pokart, the Union contract governs:
**Collective Bargaining Agreement, §§ 3.5 (“The expression of personal religious, political, social or economic beliefs of each and every attorney is fully guaranteed and will never constitute groundsfor discharge or relief from an individual assignment unless, ineither instance, it can be demonstrated that such expression has, or will, directly interfere(d) with, and detract from, representation of a Society client so as to render said representation less than at the highest level of competence and effectiveness.”) and 1.5 (“The Union will have reasonable use of the Society’s internal communication mechanisms.”).
Second, why would you send a union email to management?
Third, it’s outright racism to single out pro-Palestinian messages forcensorship.

From: Pokart, Stephen
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 2:59 PM
To: Arafa, Noha; ALAA MEMBERS
Cc: Banks, Steve; Fox, Allan; Wright, Deborah
Subject: RE: Actions on Behalf of Gaza

Ms. Arafa’s “Free Speech” notice is tendentious nonsense. The language cited was not meant to apply to e-mail policy, which is delineated on page 31 of the Legal Aid Society Employee Handbook. This says, in relevant part: “E-mail is not to be used … for conversations and discussions of international and domestic politics….. It may not be used …..to solicit forreligious or political causes. That’s the Legal Aid policy with which, I believe, our union is in accord.

From: Arafa, Noha
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 2:12 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Actions on Behalf of Gaza

[Union Free Speech Notice: Like messages about the presidential elections and any number of other issues, this is protected speech*]


<Outlook.jpg>
Comparative ethnic cleansing of indigenous people:Palestine and North America
ACTION

EndorseGaza SolidarityFrom NY/NJ
We recognize the profound role the U.S. plays in the occupation and ethnic cleaning of the Palestinians. Instead of sending 8.5 million tax dollars daily to perpetuate Israel’s violations of international law, we believe our tax dollars should go to support education, health care, and victims of the latest disaster – Hurricane Sandy — here at home, and to fund reparationsfor US-financed death and destruction in Palestine.
Join:
https://www.facebook.com/events/436429566421941/?context=create
Sign:http://www.thepetitionsite.com/162/658/883/gazasolidarity-statement/
Endorse: Stevie Wonder: Don’t Perform forApartheid Israel in L.A. on6 Dec.
We call on Stevie Wonder, as a conscientious American advocate for human rights and dignity not to support the Israeli Defense Force by performing at their gala fundraiser.
Join:
https://www.facebook.com/events/423745994345930/
Endorse: Jewish Statement of Solidarity for the World Social Forum FreePalestine
The World Social Forum FreePalestine in Porto Alegre is an important event bringing together people and movements from around the world to “build concrete support for the Palestinian cause and strengthen our common struggle for a world without walls of oppression.” As Jews committed to human emancipation, we extend oursolidarity to the Palestinian movement for justice and peace. We congratulate Brazil on their steadfast support for this historic event.
OTHER STATEMENTS

52 leading international figures call for a Military Embargo on Israel
Such a measure has been subject to several UN resolutions1 and is similar to the arms embargo imposed against apartheid South Africain the past.

http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/4740-52-leading-international-figures-call-for-a-military-embargo-on-israel

National Lawyers Guild Calls for Immediate End to Israeli Attack on Gaza
Occupying and settling Palestinian land by force, enforcing a blockade and siege of Gaza, assassinating Palestinian leaders, and periodically bombarding and invading both Gaza and the West Bank make Orwellian the Israeli government’s claims of self-defense. And yet the U.S. government trumpets this narrative, giving Israel carte blanche to go on killing Palestinian civilians.
http://www.nlg.org/news/national-lawyers-guild-calls-immediate-end-israeli-attack-gaza

BACKGROUND

Nothing nuanced in Assad’s bloody survival strategy
‎The fact that images of Syria’s dead are so easily confused with images from Gaza is evidence that not only are our people and our landscapes interchangeable, the violence is interchangeable as well. Our buildings collapse the same way from bombs falling from the sky, our dead children’s bodies hang limply the same way in their weeping fathers’ arms, and our mothers wail the same way as they bury yet another son. Syrians know this. As do Palestinians.
http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/comment/nothing-nuanced-in-assads-bloody-survival-strategy#full

‘Israelis talk about fear, we Palestinians talk about death’
We Palestinians don’t talk about fear, we talk about death. Our rockets scare them; their rockets kill us. We have no bomb shelters, we have no sirens, we have nowhere we can take our children and keep them safe. They are scared. We are dying.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/20/israelis-talk-fear-palestinians-death

Gaza abacus
Enlightening numbers regarding the fighting in Gaza, as of 8.00am GMT onNovember 19th.
http://www.economist.com/blogs/pomegranate/2012/11/israel-and-palestinians?fsrc=scn%2Ftw_ec%2Fgaza_abacus


**Collective Bargaining Agreement, §§ 3.5 (“The expression of personal religious, political, social or economic beliefs of each and every attorney is fully guaranteed and will never constitute grounds fordischarge or relief from an individual assignment unless,in either instance, it can be demonstrated that such expression has, or will, directly interfere(d) with, and detract from, representation of a Society client so as to render said representation less than at the highest level of competence and effectiveness.”) and 1.5 (“The Union will have reasonable use of the Society’s internal communication mechanisms.”).

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