Friday, August 10, 2007


  • Lenora Fulani filed papers yesterday to begin an exploratory committee with the intent to seek a citywide office in 2009 (read her statement here on Black Star News) and the MSM is united--Fulani's repudiation of her 1989 remarks about Israel and Palestinians is THE news:
  • Middle East Remarks Shadow Fulani's Run Announcement (NY Sun)
  • Firebrand Fulani to seek citywide office (AM New York)
  • Fulani Repents, Explores 2009 (NY Observer)

  • On the national campaign trail:
  • John McCain in New Hampshire--"When he talks to voters directly, it's more than Iraq and immigration" (Seacoastonline)
  • Absent 3rd Party run, Hillary can't win (Rasmussen Reports)
  • Forum Reflects Gays' Clout, Democratic Courtship Stops at Same-Sex Marriage (Wall Street Journal)
  • Gay support could cost candidates (Politico)


jeff roby said...

In today's New York Times:

“The principal of a new Arabic-themed public school in Brooklyn resigned under pressure today, days after she was quoted defending the use of the word “intifada” as a T-shirt slogan.

“Debbie Almontaser, a veteran public school teacher, was hired to lead the Khalil Gibran International Academy, a middle school that was scheduled to open this fall. An immediate replacement was not announced, and Ms. Almontaser’s abrupt exit left the future of the school in question.

“Her remarks were in response to questions from The New York Post over the phrase “Intifada NYC,” which was printed on T-shirts sold by Arab Women Active in Art and Media, a Brooklyn-based organization that the Anti-Defamation League asserts is linked to Hamas. The Post reported that Ms. Almontaser is a board member of the Saba Association of American Yemenis, which shares office space with the women’s group. Here is The Post’s account of Ms. Almontaser’s comments:

““The word [intifada] basically means ’shaking off.’ That is the root word if you look it up in Arabic,” she said.

““I understand it is developing a negative connotation due to the uprising in the Palestinian-Israeli areas. I don’t believe the intention is to have any of that kind of [violence] in New York City.

““I think it’s pretty much an opportunity for girls to express that they are part of New York City society … and shaking off oppression.”

“Ms. Almontaser issued an apology the next day, saying that she regretted her remarks. “By minimizing the word’s historical associations, I implied that I condone violence and threats of violence,” she said in a statement.

“But the apology was followed by criticism from Randi Weingarten, the president of the United Federation of Teachers. Ms. Weingarten stopped short of calling for Ms. Almontaser’s resignation, but called the word intifada “something that ought to be denounced, not explained away.”

The slippery slope. Can Fulani come to this woman's defense? Or is Almontaser too controversial?

N. Hanks said...

Are you critiquing Fulani? If so, what would you have her do? Be more straight....

jeff roby said...

n., as you well know, anyone criticizing Israel or Zionism is subjected to well-orchestrated attacks from the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) forces, forces which range from, among others, the right-wing New York Post to the supposedly liberal Chuck Schumer (who campaigned for Joe Lieberman last year because the Bush-lackey Lieberman was a friend of Israel). Fulani and her friend and mentor Fred Newman have been the target of vicious charges of anti-Semitism for decades, well before the 1989 remarks. Shortly following 9/11, Fulani made some reasonably innocuous comments about 9/11 having something to do with America’s militaristic posture in the world, and was roundly bludgeoned for it by, among others, Mike Bloomberg. The attacks on the entire New York City organization of the Independence Party centered on charges stemming from Fulani’s refusal to repudiate her 1989 remarks. While MacKay was beaten back, the fight was costly and frankly, my experience has been that mass organizing is made more difficult in the middle of a faction fight, regardless of the outcome.

Until now, Fulani stood firm.

The attacks are shockingly similar to those of the McCarthy period, when communists and those vaguely suspected of being communists were subjected to demands that they renounce communism, turn in their friends and co-workers, and sign loyalty oaths. Many had their careers and lives destroyed. Some caved in and still had their careers and lives destroyed. AS EACH ONE CAVED IN to the witch-hunt (and here’s my point), that intensified the pressure on those who still resisted. You can split hairs all you want to (after all, no two snowflakes are exactly alike), but the comparison is disturbing.

So this principal in the article wasn’t attacked for wearing an Intifada tee-shirt, or calling for an Intifada. She was attacked for her refusal to denounce students and associates for THEIR “crimes,” and she is still under attack for not having denounced them strongly enough. For the AIPAC forces, it is never enough.

So could Fulani defend this woman? If she wanted to? (Yes, I know one can’t run around getting involved in every injustice in the world.) If she tried, she would be subject to a similar round of attacks. If her calculation is that the heat is too great, I fear that that would guarantee her silence.

See, I don’t believe that her self-repudiation was a true change of heart. The timing is too obvious, that she thinks that if she wants to make a citywide run for mayor, the attacks around her 1989 remarks will be too destructive, they will distract from her message. I believe that she has made a calculation that she will be able to do more for the people of New York if she can disavow this part of her past. The very phrasing, “I am repudiating my remarks of 18 years ago ... I disassociate myself from them,” reeks of formula, reeks of script — this is what you wanted me to say so I said it.

But I fear it won’t be the end. Will she be called on to denounce Fred Newman? Will she be called on to denounce others in the community who consider Israel the aggressor, who haven’t forgotten the occupation? Not to be facetious, but I don’t think we can send in the All-Stars to the West Bank and Gaza until the occupation is ended.

Do I hold Fulani to a higher standard? Yes I do. She has been and remains one of my heroes. I sympathize with her for having taken a greater beating than I ever would have been willing to take. But I fear that this repudiation will only bring on more attacks. It signals to those who have seen her as a beacon of courage that even she will break under pressure.

And it breaks my heart.

N. Hanks said...

Jeff, I don't speak for Lenora Fulani. However, knowing you as I do for many years, and sharing a passionate and militant left history, one of anger with the powers that be, I empathize with you on our collective "lost innocence". However, left suffering is a thing of the past. We're turning the page. Will you come with us?
Give me a call at 646-567-6641.