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Sunday, June 4, 2006

Readers will recall efforts over the past year or so to have the City of Somerville, Massachusetts divest itself of holdings in investments in the State of Israel. See multiple posts here.

Well, Somerville divestment was defeated, but one of its leading lights, Andover High School physics teacher, Ron Francis, is still making headlines.

It starts with a short essay by Francis on the Somerville Divestment Project's web site decrying 'Media Bias on Hamas.' Here's a snip:

As usual the media coverage of Palestine is ridiculously biased:

Hamas is consistently called a terrorist organization while Israeli actions funded by the US, representing far more and far worse violent "terrorist" activities go virtually unmentioned - and I have listened to and read many stories on this matter.

It is never discussed why it is that many people around the world view Israel's colonial project since fall of 1947 - ethnic cleansing followed by apartheid with subsequent denial of fundamental rights including the right of return - as fundamentally illegitimate. A distinction is never made between questioning the existence of "apartheid Israel" and "Israel"; the question of the validity of a Jewish-priviledge state is never raised.

Virtually the whole world knows that the Right of Return if one of the key issues if not THE key issue in the conflict...

It's no surprise to find a leader of the SDP defending Hamas's interests. The SDP is, by many accounts, dominated by a group so radical that it's driven some of their long-term supporters away -- the New England Committee to Defend Palestine [NECDP]. The NECDP is a group who's goal is unequivocal -- the destruction of Israel. Among other things, they think Iranian leader Ahmadinejad's call for the destruction of Israel is a sensible idea, for instance.

A description of the scene after the Somerville Board of Aldermen voted down divestment the first time may help illustrate the extreme nature of the SDP and their tendency towards zealotry:

... As soon as they did Ron Francis and Christina Bolton stepped up to the podium and began singing the Anthem of the African National Congress. Simultaneously, other supporters began placing a statement from Desmond Tutu and poet Mahmoud Darwish in front of the Aldermen. Though dramatic and cathartic, it may not have been effective. Denise Provost, the one supporter from the committee and President of the Board was chairing the meeting and standing at the microphone screaming that “you have been offered every courtesy by this board”, and asked police to remove all those disrupting the meeting. Several police officers carefully escorted Ron and Christine out of the hall while roughly 30 others walked out with them. From the hall they spontaneously began chanting “Free Free Palestine”...

Get the picture? Let's fast forward to today, or this April to be exact, when a former student of Francis' wrote a letter to the Andover paper, the Townsman (what follows is a significant excerpt -- follow the link and scroll down for the complete letter): Former student questions teacher's views on Hamas

Andover High School teacher Dr. Ron Francis recently wrote an article defending Hamas, a Palestinian group classified by the US government as a terrorist organization, against "media bias."

Decent people around the world are busy condemning Hamas, a group whose official charter states, "The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: 'O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.'"

Francis is a member of the organization Somerville Divestment Project (SDP), a local pro-Palestinian group that seeks to force Somerville to divest money from Israel bonds...

...It is difficult for me to remain unbiased regarding this issue. Not only am I a former student of Francis, but I have personal experience with Hamas. On Jan. 29, 2004, a bomb exploded on the street I was living on in Jerusalem. At first I thought my fiancee (now my wife) might have been killed, and minutes later I ran to the scene. I saw a decimated bus (blown up by a Palestinian homicide bomber), with corpses and body parts strewn around the street. There was blood everywhere, and those who were wounded struggled and screamed in pain. Eleven human beings lost their lives in that attack on my former street, and 44 people were wounded. Hamas proudly claimed responsibility for the bombing.

This is one of many terrorist attacks that Hamas, the organization that Ron Francis defends from alleged media bias, has perpetrated. Francis' defense of this organization, and his involvement with the SDP in Somerville, raises some troubling questions: How can a teacher defend a group that deliberately murders civilians, including children? Is a defender of an anti-Semitic terror organization fit to teach students? Does Francis plan on expanding the SDP into Andover? Why does Francis, an outspoken advocate of free speech, defend a group that chooses bombings over dialogue?...

The letter prompted a formal article by the paper: Students involved in teacher's cause (emphasis mine)

Andover High School physics teacher Ron Francis has been accused by critics of his politics of recruiting AHS students to participate in a Somerville campaign they believe is anti-Semitic. Francis said the charges are "ridiculous."

While he acknowledges that four Andover High students have worked for the Somerville Divestment Project, a non-profit organization that protests the policies of the Israeli government, Francis, a Somerville resident and board member of SDP, sees nothing wrong with the students' involvement. He calls any allegations of anti-Semitic activity "bogus nonsense and anti-intellectual."...

...Both the Andover High School principal and teachers' union president praise Francis for being an exceptional teacher who does not bring his personal interests into the classroom.

But Somerville resident Natalie Vieira believes she has proof that he has. Vieira said that in August 2005, a young man, "friendly and polite," came to her house and asked her to sign a petition to force the city to divest its pension funds from Israeli bonds and companies that supply military equipment to Israel. The petition was on behalf of the Somerville Divestment Project.

Francis was listed as a coordinator of the petition drive. The petition campaign died when sponsors failed to return the required 4,000 signatures (10 percent of the registered voters) needed to put the issue on the November ballot.

"I asked (the petitioner) if he was from Somerville," Vieira recalled. "He said 'No, I go to Andover High School.'"

When she asked him what he was doing so far away from Andover, according to Vieira, the AHS student said he was "doing a favor for a teacher."

That teacher was Francis, who says SDP is nothing more than a non-profit pro-human rights organization.

"I don't control what non-profits our students work for in the summer or during the school year," said Francis. "Some work for Red Cross, some work for SDP. Students have the right to work for whatever organizations they want to work for."

He added that three other AHS students, one of them Jewish, and all of them part of an after school group called "Students for Justice in the Middle East," had also canvassed for SDP. Francis, an informal advisor of the student-led group, said they were paid $8 to $10 per hour for doing so...

And, of course, it's all just a coincidence that kids from Andover (a town well north of Boston and Somerville), would choose the Somerville Divestment Project as a place to spend their extracurricular time. Someone (Francis) has recruited these kids to go out and pound the pavement for a radical group. They didn't just pick it out of the Yellow Pages.

...[Andover High School Principal] Anderson called Francis "an exceptionally fine teacher who has never confused his personal interest with his professional responsibility."

"It would concern us all if any teacher's personal interests were brought into the classroom to influence students," he added.

When Anderson was informed that Francis told the Townsman that four AHS students had canvassed in Somerville on behalf of SDP, the principal had "no comment at this time."

While Francis said he has never discussed his political position during his physics classes, he has shared some of his views with AHS students.

"I don't think you can implement a rule that would not allow teachers to tell students how they feel," he said. "Now you're starting to deal with the First Amendment. We're an academic institution. Free discourse has to be allowed."...

As well it should, but Andover High School is not a research university. Francis is employed to teach physics to a captive audience of students, not introduce and indoctrinate them in his highly controversial political activities. While even many university teachers seem to tread the line of forgetting their real purpose and imagining that they are at university as paid, unaccountable political activists, free of criticism, it seems to me that the bar should be far lower and firmer for grade-school teachers who overlap their political activities with their High School campus life as it appears Francis clearly has -- even given his protests to have kept his opinions out of the classroom itself.

...Some in the Somerville community don't believe that SPD [sic] is so well-intentioned though, and they have formed an organization called Somerville Middle East Justice to counter SDP's efforts.

"(Francis) said he is pro-human rights, but his literature says otherwise," said SMEJ member Anna Krasko. "He aligns himself with the most rejectionist forces in the Middle East."

Krasko called some of the articles posted on SDP's Web site "reminiscent of what was coming out of Nazi Germany in the 1930s."

She said one such article described the genetic make-up of Jews and denied that Jews of European origin have any connection to ancient Jews or to Israel.

Francis pointed to a disclaimer on the Web site, which states: "SDP does not necessarily endorse the material on this Web site unless it is an official SDP statement." He added that articles on the Web site are merely "academic pieces" to provoke thought and discussion...

Krasko's letter can be found on this page. SDP has a link, for instance, to the web page of Karin Friedemann, (a.k.a. Maria Hussain), an individual who, along with her husband, cranks out anti-semitic screeds so raw that even the Islamic Society of Boston was forced to distance themselves from her. The SDP has no such scruples...or shame.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the head of the Andover Teacher's Union, Tom Meyers, is not only defending Francis on his free-speech rights, but on the merits of his political activity itself: Union head: Teacher is 'defender of human rights' (scroll down).

I have often posted on extremists in academia, but it has almost always been someone abusing a university setting. This is one of the rare times when it's a High School hosting such extremism. I do not use the term lightly, either, by just applying it to someone who's views I disagree with. Those already familiar with, or who choose to familiarize themselves with, the Somerville divestment issue, and who spend some time cruising the SDP site and those of their affiliates and their links, the writings of some of their members and leaders, like those who feel compelled to write essays attempting to blunt the moral outrage we feel toward suicide bombing -- those folks will find that the term "extremist" is actually a moderate and accurate label in this case.

I don't suggest a prescription here, but there is clearly a problem, and a big one. I do know that crying free speech (an important cry!) when there is strong evidence that a High School teacher may be abusing his position to involve students in radical political activity is insufficient.

Cross-posted at Hub Politics

Update 6/8/06: More here.

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: The Andover Teacher Who Supported Hamas -- and Got His Students to Help.

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://www.solomonia.com/cgi-bin/mt4/mt-renamedtb.cgi/6312

Readers may recall efforts over the past year or two to have the City of Somerville, Massachusetts divest itself of holdings in investments in the State of Israel. See multiple posts here. Well, Somerville divestment was defeated, but one of... Read More



23 Comments

excellent piece which raises really serious problems about our school system. as the saying goes, those who can't do, teach. and after the 60s, lots of radicals, who couldn't make revolution went into teaching. this is true the west over (Finkielkraut taks about a whole generation raised to think of France as a shitty country). as a result we get students trained in the most bizarre "revolutionary" nonsense.

i remember at one point talking with some students and another professor and the professor told me about the idea that only whites can be racist (recently repeated here). as i expressed astonishment, one of my students replied, "that's what i learned in my high school history class."

this is really troubling. as you say, this is no easy matter and it's not clear what to do. but in the case of Ron Francis, we probably have enough to make it a case, something to at least send out a warning shot that a) this kind of behavior isn't ethical, and b) there are consequences.

no wonder we're in trouble.

r

Assuming we live to see a lasting, just and peaceful resolution (i.e. two states with defensible borders for the state that needs to concern itself with terrorist attacks on its unarmed citizens), what cause will all these personality disordered cretins be able to focus their energies on in a satisfying and meaningful way?

Good work, Sol!

You also got a nice mention at The American Thinker. Unfortunately, they haven't much to add to what you've already said.

respectfully,
Daniel in Brookline

Thanks for an enlightening article. I had no idea that a teacher such as Francis would be allowed to push his agenda of hate in a public school without the school system interfering. The joys of tenure.

As a High School teacher, I doubt he has any sort of tenure, just a contract and a union.

As I wrote in the comments elsewhere on this:

We do need some more information, and the people who need to be making the most noise are the Andover tax payers and particularly those with kids in the schools. They need to decide what the community standards should be.

Note that he is also an adviser to a student group.

Would we mind if he were a KKK guy, or a big following of the Institute for Historical Review (a Holocaust "revisionist" group)? I think we would. And I think what it may come to is saying that yes, you can keep your job as a physics teacher, but there better be a firewall between the school and your politics.

I think public High School parents should reasonably have a very low threshhold for this sort of thing and expect teachers who have access to their children (and these are minor children here) and are hired to do a certain thing, stick to that thing, and leave controversial extras out.

As an Andover High School graduate, I am appalled that Francis has brought his hateful politics to the school. It is time for an investigation into his immoral and unethical actions.

First of all, I'd like to thank you for posting excerpts from the news articles. I only recently became aware of the growing concern in Andover about SDP, and I have not yet had a chance to read the articles for myself.

I am one of the four AHS students who worked for SDP and were mentioned in the article. As was stated in the articles by administration and faculty, Dr. Francis is an exceptional teacher and has never brought his personal views into any of his classes, as far as I have seen.

SDP's stance on human rights is hardly radical (unless UN resolutions and international law are considered radical). I suppose it's easy to sling insults at people who have different views about certain issues rather than rationally defend the legitimacy of one's own position, or critically analyze the opposing side's position. It's fascinating, however, how facts can be twisted and presented in a way to make anyone appear as the writer of an article wishes.

I was not forced or coerced in any way to participate in SDP's activities (nor was I indoctrinated to Francis's beliefs), and I found my work last summer with SDP to be a highly educational and enjoyable experience. Unfortunately for SDP's opponents, slinging intellectually bankrupt phrases such as "agenda of hate" at SDP will not stop SDP from making progress in encouraging socially responsible investing.

Thanks for your note.

How did you happen to choose Israel as an interest and the SDP as a project?

The issue was actually brought to me by a fellow student, who had recently formed a club which wished to educate students about US-supported human rights abuses against Palestinians. I was offered a canvassing position at SDP by Dr. Francis, who had informally been advising our club. Dr. Francis only offered this opportunity to me after I had expressed my interest in this issue independently, and as far as I know, the same goes for the other students who worked for SDP.

I don't think it is fair to try to condemn someone for encouraging political activism in high school students. As I said before, my experience with SDP was enjoyable and educational. It was eye-opening how people hold double standards and do not have respect for even the concept of universal, fundamental human rights, and how people will label those who actually try to adhere to these well-reasoned and strict moral principles.

As for the controversy regarding "indoctrinating" high schoolers, you are not giving youths enough credit. Although, unfortunately, many young people today take uninformed political stances merely to aggravate adults and get attention for it, the former AHS students (we've all graduated by now) who worked for SDP are very thoughtful and informed, and to consider Dr. Francis solely responsible for their concern about human rights in Palestine is unrealistic and misinformed.

I hope you will consider this post before you offer more meritless accusations which attempt to sidestep the issue of the US-supported apartheid in Israel by portraying your opponents as having bad characters.

Dear "AHS Alum,"

If you are indeed proud of your work in fighting "US-supported apartheid," why aren't you signing your emails with your real name?

Could it be that the poster isn't actually an AHS Alum at all, but rather a loyal SDP member?

Has the poster ever been to Israel? As an Andover HS graduate who has lived in Israel for over five years, I would love to invite the poster to visit the region in order to dispel many of the myths and baseless propaganda that s/he is writing.

If you are truly an AHS student, why not sign your real name (unless you think that you and/or Francis did something wrong)?

Mr. Danis,

Once again, I see that you are attacking a person's character in order to weaken their position. As for accusing members of SDP of being false and impersonating me: just another futile attempt to discredit the poster by undermining their credibility, instead of critically examining their views. This is an "ad hominem" irrelevant premise, a well known element of faulty reasoning, and you have still failed to deal with SDP's claims directly.

The only reason I didn't use my real name was to protect people who might know me, and to protect my own name. I do not feel like I have done anything wrong, but I was concerned that certain opponents of SDP might slap labels on me as they did to Dr. Francis and that people I am close to might be harassed needlessly (as this has happened before). Disregarding the fact that my character was never the issue here, I am actually including my real name with this post because I feel that if I didn't, you'd try to attack me on this point once again.

I have not ever been to Israel. I don't see how my visiting Israel would change its behavior towards Palestine, but if it could, then I would definitely visit (is this what you mean by my visit having the power to "dispel myths"?). Unfortunately, I have neither the time nor means at this stage in my life to visit the region, nor do I want to support sustained and severe human rights violations with my money. I suspect that such a trip would in fact confirm SDP's human rights concerns (what you call "baseless propaganda").

Mr Danis,

I can assure you that "AHS Alum" is genuine in all of his responses, despite your absurd implications otherwise. As a person who has known him and his family for years, I can also speak volumes for his personal character. Simply withholding his name does not discredit the points he has made. Just to clarify, I have never been associated with SDP, nor did I have the pleasure of taking a class with Dr. Frances during my tenure at Andover High School.

Can you explain the persistence of your out-of-context personal attacks? You mention "Baseless propaganda", yet you cite nothing. Is this because you prefer the use of buzzwords to condemn ideas you dislike rather than discussing them intellectually? It is very easy to cast aside ideas you do not approve of, Mr. Danis, rather than taking the time the time to understand where it is these ideas are coming from.

Furthermore, simply having lived in Israel does not qualify you as an expert on the entire country and how people of different backgrounds go about their daily lives there. I have never been to Sudan. If someone who has been there tells me that I have been severely misinformed about the whole situation, should I believe them simply because of their limited first-hand experiences? Would you? I am sure your time in Israel was very enlightening, but this fact remains -- You did not experience Israel the way others experienced it. Your personal experiences are yours and yours alone. After all, living in Andover has left you with a very different impression of life in America than most, am I right?

You obviously have very strong opinions on these matters, and you are more than entitled to them. I believe you are wrong, however, to be too close-minded when viewing the opinions of others. Why do you choose to tell people that they are "baseless" in what they say, when they have very legitimate political views? Instead, I think you should strive to understand why these people are thinking this way, rather than presuming them to be hateful. You are not so arrogant to simply think that you are "right", and that those who disagree with you are "wrong", on such complicated and multi-faceted issues, are you?

Joshua,

I did not attack your character. I asked why you did not write your full name if you are proud of your work with the SDP. You still have not written out your full name. You apparently went door-to-door in Somerville in order to canvas for the anti-Semitic SDP, and you were part of an after-school club that other students must have known about, and you weren't afraid then. What changed? I am not afraid to write my full name, even though there is a possibility that some people might harass me.

I am more than happy to "critically examine" the distored views put forth by you and the SDP (you claim Francis didn't coach you, but calling Israel an apartheid regime, as you did, is a common Francis tactic).

Labeling Israel an "apartheid state," without taking into account the brutal terror, rejectionism and Islamic fundamentalism that Israel has encountered since before its inception, is ignorant. The current Palestinian govt. is led by a party whose charter calls for the obliteration of Israel and explicitly mentions murdering "Jews" (as opposed to Israelis). Accusing Israel of being an apartheid regime under these circumstances reveals either extreme bias or a lack of knowledge. The Iranian president has officially called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and he denies the Holocaust, and yet you spent time and energy trying to weaken Israel. That is immoral.

Campaigning for a "full right of return" for Palestinian refugees, while ignoring the fact that there were also hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees in the late 1940s, reeks of bias and partisanship.

Campaigning for a full right of return, which the SDP has officially endorsed via Francis, despite knowing that this would flood the Jewish state with millions of Palestinians and thus destroy Israel, is anti-Semitic.

Affiliating with an organization that has publicly defended Hamas terrorists is just morally wrong (we are talking about an organization the U.S. government has deemed illegal):

http://www.divestmentproject.org/media_bias.shtml

I thought the SDP allegedly stood for human rights. So why would Francis publicly defend baby-killers in an article without even once denouncing their anti-Semitic charter or their penchant for targeting civilians?

Affiliating proudly with an organization whose Website is linked to sites that claim that American Jews control the U.S. government is just wrong:

http://www.divestmentproject.org/iraqi_war.shtml

Hopefully the real reason you don't want to give your full name is because you are embarrassed to be affiliated with such a hateful organization (you certainly should be).

Before making statements about a region you seem to know little about, I advise you to come for a visit. Seeing the facts on the ground (for instance, seeing that Israeli Arabs have more rights in Israel than Arabs have in almost any Arab country - which leads to the question of why the SDP has targeted Israel as opposed to Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Egypt) would probably help you better understand the complex situation here, and would make you less susceptible to a charismatic teacher peddling anti-Semitic propaganda.

Your comment about not wanting to spend money in Israel is pretty silly. I'm guessing you don't support the war in Iraq, yet I assume you live in the U.S., pay taxes and spend money there. But not spending money in the U.S. or moving would actually be an inconvenience, while singling out the Jews of Israel among all nations of the world is easy.

Eric Danis

Tom Avila,

You either don't know Joshua and the SDP as well as you think you do, or you are deliberately misrepresenting both entities.

You wrote, "Can you explain the persistence of your out-of-context personal attacks? You mention 'Baseless propaganda', yet you cite nothing."

Joshua wrote that Israel is an apartheid state (which is exactly the kind of name-calling that both you and Joshua claim to be against). This is baseless propaganda. Israel is a multi-cultural country that affords full rights to individuals descended from many countries, including Ethiopians, Moroccans, Russians, Hungarians, Yemenites, Arabs, etc. Israel does, however, defend itself from terrorists that are trying to eliminate her from the family of nations (as Hamas and Islamic Jihad are doing).

Joshua also wrote comments supporting the SDP, an organization whose leader wrote an article defending Hamas, without once condemning its terror tactics.

http://www.divestmentproject.org/media_bias.shtml

He also proudly affiliated with an organization that has links to articles that claim that Jews control the U.S. government (an anti-Semitic canard).

http://www.divestmentproject.org/iraqi_war.shtml

There was nothing "out-of-context" or "personal" about my comments. You are merely trying to divert the argument because it is you who has little of substance to say on this issue.

You wrote, "Why do you choose to tell people that they are 'baseless' in what they say, when they have very legitimate political views?"

Why do you label the views of Francis and Joshua as "legitimate," when they are both affiliated with an anti-Semitic organization? Did you read the editorial in the Eagle-Tribune newspaper that called Francis' views "skewed" and "immature"? Did you read the Jewish Advocate article that is the subject of this blog? Defending Hamas is not "legitimate." Claiming that Jews conspire to control the U.S. government is not "legitimate." Calling a country defending itself from a deadly terror war "an apartheid state" is not "legitimate."

Singling out Israel among all nations of the world isn't "legitimate." It's extremism in its worst form. Reasonable people can disagree with Israel and even criticize her, but Francis and Joshua have not acted reasonably or responsibly. Have you wondered why so few people seem willing to publicly defend Francis' views since this controversy broke out? Why was divestment voted down in Somerville if it is so "legitimate"? Why hasn't it passed on a single college campus despite repeated attempts by extremist groups?

As for my living in Israel: personally, I would hesitate to make grand proclamations about a country if I had never set foot in that country and didn't speak that country's official language, etc. There is no substitute for seeing the facts on the ground, meeting the people who live in that country and speaking with them, learning about their culture, etc. Without that, one is forced to rely solely on the media (which often submits incomplete and/or biased reports on many issues).

Eric Danis


Anyone else notice that both Tom and Joshua have the same exact writing style and both address Eric as "Mr. Danis" (pretty strange when writing on a blog)? Interesting...

Here is a good article about how anti-Zionism = anti-Semitism:

http://www.townhall.com/opinion/column/dennisprager/2006/05/30/199115.html

As long as people are still monitoring this thread...I'd be interested to know how Joshua's friend happened to come to form such a club. That sounds like an exceptional thing to have at the High School level. How did that come about?

Joshua, I cannot tell you how impressed I am that you do not "support sustained and severe human rights violations with my money."

The ony thing,is, how do you do it? Like, where do you buy heating oil and gas? I find it hard to drive without supporting Saudi Arabia's sustained and severe human rights violations with my money.

And where do you shop for clothes and shoes? I ask because an awful lot of American clothing comes form china, which does have a record of sustained and severe human rights violations.

Maybe you weave your own khaki, but what about your cell phone, radio and laptop? And where do you phone when you need tech support? Last time I phoned up someone answered in Bangalore. Personally, I find India's treatment of dalit pretty horrifying. Can you share some shopping tips, because I find it really, really hard to go shopping without supporting sustained and severe human rights violations with my money.

Liz,

Didn't you know? Human rights violations are ok as long as they aren't committed by the Jews of Israel (and if they are committed by Hamas, then the head of the SDP will write an article supporting them).

Mr. Danis,

It was unnecessary for you to explain your opinion on the matter to me, as I already understood it, and openly acknowledged that you are entitled to it. It was simply my intention to point out to you that in situations as complicated as this, you must often try to understand different sides of an issue before you condemn them.

I originally assumed you to be a person who was willing to look at both sides, but it seems you are so adamantly opposed to the concept, as far as this issue is concerned, that any attempts by me to suggest you do so were in vain.

Tom,

You are correct. I am unwilling to consider attempts to destroy the country that I live in as a good thing. I believe defending Hamas, an anti-Semitic terror org. that openly murders civilians is wrong. There is no ambiguity there. I believe an organization (SDP) that maintains a Website that links to articles claiming that Jews control the U.S. government is a sick organization. You seem to think that these beliefs make me closed-minded, when in fact they are indicative of a sense of morality (something the SDP sorely lacks). Reasonable people can disagree regarding Israel and her policies, but there can be no argument regarding whether or not Israel should be destroyed, or over supporting Hamas.

I am glad that you seem unwilling to publicly defend the beliefs of Joshua, Francis and the SDP and to relate to the factual nature of my arguments (the fact that Francis wrote an article supporting Hamas, the fact that the SDP's Website links to anti-Semitic articles, etc.). I hope this indicates that you too find these things to be immoral.

I hope someday you will get a chance to visit Israel, it's an amazing country. Good luck,

Eric Danis

Leaving aside the issue of the justness of UN resolutions (that's a whole other issue), there is a vast difference between being concerned with the treatment of the Palestinians and working for a group that supports Hamas. Saying you feel for the Palestinians is one thing. But translating that feeling into support for the SDP is a big step further. You're not only expressing rights of Palestinians, but signing on to their political agenda.

Dr. Francis is a Physicist holding a phd. I think that says a fair amount about the level he thinks at.


"Anyone else notice that both Tom and Joshua have the same exact writing style and both address Eric as "Mr. Danis" (pretty strange when writing on a blog)? Interesting..."

Curious:
For the Record Tom and Josh were in the same class (one year below me) and since education does affect speech patterns it's quite likely that they write the same way.


"You apparently went door-to-door in Somerville in order to canvas for the anti-Semitic SDP, and you were part of an after-school club that other students must have known about, and you weren't afraid then."

Danis:
If SDP supports hamas, by definition it cannot be anti-semetic. You are confusing a population with its religion.

Semite generally refers to the people that speak semetic languages, which inlcude both arabic and hebrew.

There is also y-chromosomal evidence to show that many arabs and jews share a common male ancestor or set of ancestors.

"Labeling Israel an "apartheid state," without taking into account the brutal terror, rejectionism and Islamic fundamentalism that Israel has encountered since before its inception, is ignorant..."

Could you take the liberty to post responses to these claims? Making things easy and providing open discussion is good!

http://www.divestmentproject.org/apartheid_Israel.shtml

Please support your view point.
-Sreyan

"Dr. Francis is a Physicist holding a phd. I think that says a fair amount about the level he thinks at."

It says he has a recognized expertise in Physics, nothing else. It is a common fallacy and rhetorical trick to present a scholarly credential and extrapolate that to imagined expertise in other areas. It does not follow. The examples of people with some sort of expertise in one area but who hold borderline insane ideas in others are legion. Arthur Butz is a tenured professor of engineering at Northwestern. He is also a Holocaust denier. His writing on the Holocaust is in no way buttressed by his engineering background.

"If SDP supports hamas, by definition it cannot be anti-semetic. You are confusing a population with its religion.

Semite generally refers to the people that speak semetic languages, which inlcude both arabic and hebrew..."

This is akin to complaining that the word "hamburger" is incorrect because there is no ham in it. It's an attempt at cleverness that isn't very smart. "Anti-Semitism" has the same meaning now as it has for the past 120 years, in spite of some peoples' attempt to redefine the term for their own purposes. It is a euphemism for Jew Hatred. It always has been. Arguing over word definitions (the term "semite" is rather imprecise to begin with), especially ones with as long and well-defined usage as that one makes it look like you have some reason to wish to redefine the term away. I would suggest that that is not a place you want to lead your listener to consider.

Hamas is a group which refers to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in their charter. They are an anti-Semitic, Islamic supremacist group with stated genocidal goals that opposes the existence of Israel because they cannot tolerate the existence of state ruled by non-Muslims, particularly Jews, in that area. It is not unreasonable to consider that supporters of such a group are also, themselves, anti-semites.

"There is also y-chromosomal evidence to show that many arabs and jews share a common male ancestor or set of ancestors."

This is a racial argument that again is clever, but not very helpful. Go back far enough and we all share a common ancestor somewhere out of Africa. So what? Israelis come in all sorts of colors and genetic codes -- it's mostly Israel's enemies who fantasize that it's a racist state and therefore always seem to come up with these racist arguments. They're irrelevant except in a sort of abstract academic sense.

"Could you take the liberty to post responses to these claims? Making things easy and providing open discussion is good!

Link..."

The link to the SDP site and its table comparing Israel and Apartheid SA is an example of sophistry, not good argument. The table demonstrates how weak the comparison is, and is indistinguishable from how one would expect one population to interact with another when that other is bent on genocide and murder. They're attempts at self-defense, according to that sort of portrayal, may look like Apartheid in the most superficial sense, but that just tortures the definition. I suggest, should you actually come back and read this, googling for counter-arguments to the comparison which exist in great number and eloquence, often by people with experience within both systems. I certainly lack the time and interest to unravel such tendentious portrayals, as, I'm sure, does Eric Danis, and if you're really not aware of the "brutal terror, rejectionism and Islamic fundamentalism that Israel has encountered since before its inception" then I would say that that is an education you are not likely to get from a short exchange in a blog comment section, though I would be happy to recommend some books.

Now here's question. If it's true, as I've seen said, that Ron Francis keeps a "firewall" between his politics and his classroom, why is it that his students keep showing up to defend his political views?

"Syme: It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. You wouldn't have seen the [Newspeak] Dictionary 10th edition, would you Smith? It's that thick. [illustrates thickness with fingers] The 11th Edition will be that [narrows fingers] thick. Winston Smith: So, The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect? Syme: The secret is to move from translation, to direct thought, to automatic response. No need for self-discipline. Language coming from here [the larynx], not from here [the brain]" -1984 (film)


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