Friday, January 25, 2008

IEP Meeting for Stephen

We held the meeting, still missing some docs, but they basically gave us what we need. We will have a placement in a private school, which we will have to work out. We have a few loose ends to work out, but the IEP should be signed soon.

I talked to the CDE investigator this afternoon, who was aware and displeased that they had not produced everything as he told them to. He says this happens a lot, but they'll get it done. He knows they have to have it wrapped by the 9th, so I guess we'll have the records by then.

After the meeting they offered a resolution session at the SELPA on the compliance complaints some time next week. We'll see what happens when we sit down together.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Guest comment by Jeff Halper

Just as black eye peas go with collard greens, the following goes with the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46!

By: Jeff Halper
January 23, 2008

The people of Palestine have done it again, taking their own fate in their hands after being let down by their own “moderate” political leadership and, indeed, the entire international community in their struggle for freedom. Early this morning they simply blew up the wall separating Gaza from Egypt, breaking a siege imposed on them by an Arab government in collaboration with Israel.

We, the peoples of the world, should take great pride and encouragement in this quintessentially civil society refusal to accept subjugation, to abandon their fate to governments, including their own, for whom the lives of ordinary people are simply grist for their political charades – Annapolis and its subsequent “peace process” being but the last cynical expression. For the Palestinians represent far more than just themselves. Their refusal to submit to the dictates of governments, or to governments’ lack of interest in the well-being of people in general, reflects the desire of billions of oppressed people for identity, freedom, a decent life and actualization of their collective and individual rights and potentials. Most of the oppressed, the “wretched of the earth” as Franz Fanon called them a half-century ago, are too preoccupied with the daunting daily struggle for survival to organize and resist. Others do resist in a myriad of ways, but are most often repressed by their own political and economic “leaders,” disappearing anonymously from view. In a few cases they have managed to mount effective resistance to oppression, even to prevail – though the billions spent on “counterinsurgency” warfare by the US, Europe, Russia, Israel and many “developing” nations augur ill for peoples attempting to overthrow oppressive regimes.

In this the Palestinians stand at the forefront, in the front lines of peoples’ insistence everywhere that their rights, well-being and fundamental values as human beings be respected by governments. And they do so (and I write this as an Israeli with great sorrow and shame) against one of the world’s strongest and most ruthless military powers – a power that has dispossessed them from 85% of their land, which is trying to transform its occupation into a permanent regime of apartheid, which has spent decades impoverishing and disenfranchising them; the fourth largest nuclear power which nevertheless casts itself as the victim. Not only have the Palestinians experienced the dehumanization all oppressed and colonized peoples experience, not only have they been made into the embodiment of the rich and powerful’s greatest fear, evil “terrorists” who may tear down their privileged “civilization,” but they have been turned into guinea pigs. Israel is able to gain an edge in the counterinsurgency industry and win entree into the heart of the American military/hi tech complex by turning the Occupied Territories into a laboratory for the development of fiendish weaponry and tactics intended for use against people.

And yet the Palestinian people – and in particular those who remain sumud, steadfast, in Palestine – continue not only to resist but to surprise and confound its would-be Israeli master at every turn. Despite unlimited control, a complete monopoly over the use of force, utter callousness and a vaunted Shin Bet, Israel’s military intelligence, Palestinians vote as they want, resist, carry on their daily lives with dignity – and blow huge holes in the walls and policies constructed in order to imprison and defeat them.All this is not on the minds of those desperate people who surged into Egypt today. They may not have the “Big Picture.” Yet they deserve the respect and gratefulness of every person who cherishes a better world based on human rights and dignity, a world that is inclusive. As an Israeli Jew, I have been saddened and mortified that my own people, after all they have experienced, cannot see what they are doing to others. But on a larger scale, not as an Israeli Jew but as a human being, I take heart in the Palestinians’ active refusal to be ground under a global system that is producing unimaginable wealth and power for a few at the expense of the growing ranks of the wretched.

I am not a Palestinian; I am not one of the oppressed. I only hope I can use my privilege in an effective way in order to redeem the gift the people of Gaza have given all of us: the realization that the people do have power and can prevail even in the face of overwhelming power. We may each express our responsibility towards the people of Gaza in whatever way most suits us, but as the privileged we must do something. We owe the Palestinians and the Palestinians writ large at least that.

(Jeff Halper is the Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Beauty Principle

Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see him, no beauty that we should desire him.

- Isaiah 53:1-2

Who has planned this against Tyre, the bestower of crowns,
Whose merchants were princes, whose traders were the honored of the earth?
The Lord of hosts has planned it to defile the pride of all beauty,
To despise all the honored of the earth.

- Isaiah 29:8-9

A tenet of physics is the "Principle of Beauty," that if it's the right explanation it will have beauty. In other words, if it's kludgy and inelegant, it's probably not true. In the Proverbs it is written, "Pleasant words are pure."

Isaiah brings us terrible news - obvious, but we need to be reminded and to consider what it means. Our eye for beauty is broken, so that in Isaiah's words, woe to us because we put light for darkness and darkness for light. We recoil in terror from the truly beautiful. We don't want like Jesus to take up our cross each day. And what is beautiful and honorable to men is abominable to God, as Jesus said, agreeing with Isaiah's prophecy against Tyre and applying it to the whole world. In "God in Search of Man," in the chapter entitled "The Spirit of Judaism," Abraham Joshua Heschel writes:

Deep in our hearts there is a perpetual temptation to worship the imposing; to make an idol of things dear to us. It is easy to adore the illustrious. It is easy to appreciate beauty, and hard to see through the masquerade of the ostentatious. Had a poet come to Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom, he would have written songs extolling its magnificent edifices, its beautiful temples and monuments of worldly glory. But Amos of Tekoa upon his visit to Samaria did not speak of the splendor of "the house of ivory" nor sing the praise of the palaces. Looking at them he saw nothing but moral confusion and oppression. Instead of being fascinated, he was appalled. "I abhor the pride of Jacob and hate his palaces, " he cried out in the name of the Lord. Was Amos not sensitive to beauty?

We must not regard any human institution or object as being an end in itself. Man's achievements in this world are but attempts, and a temple that comes to mean more than a reminder of the living God is an abomination.

And that is why God plans to defile the pride of all beauty. If the light in us is darkness, how great is that darkness! May the Lord enlighten our eyes to discern beauty and abomination, and to know the difference.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Christians, she's talking to us!

“In the State of Israel the Jewish mother is disappearing”

Nurit Peled-Elhanan – Women in Black 28/12/2007

I thank Women in Black for inviting me to speak here today. At this hour, I would like to dedicate my words to the children of the Gaza Strip, who are withering slowly from hunger and disease, and to their mothers, who continue to bring children into the world, to feed and to educate them wonderfully. The rate of literacy in the Gaza Strip today stands at 92% - among the highest in the world, and all that in the most terrible concentration camp on earth, the residents of which are being strangled as the civilized world looks on in silence.

I wish we could celebrate today the conclusion of the activities of the Women in Black. But the truth is that their activities are becoming harder every day. In a state in which the gods of death and money rule, in a state where the economy is flourishing while the children are hungry, where the mythological heroes are fearless murderers, where the leaders openly and publicly admit that human life is not worth a fig in their eyes, in a state that sends its sons to be killed without even bothering to invent a reason for it, in a state that imprisons millions of human beings in ghettoes and enclosures and kills them slowly, the persistent quiet voice of the Women in Black is the strongest conscientious voice of refusal. The Women in Black are the example and paragon of refusal to worship the god of death, refusal to obey the racist laws of the State of Israel. The action of The Women in Black is in itself the rejection of racist education and the routine systematic poisoning of minds that sustains the schools, the media, and the speeches of the nation’s elected representatives.

In the State of Israel the Jewish mother is facing extinction. The Jewish mother of today is closed off in neighbourhoods like Mea Shearim* - there the mothers protect their children from the army - and outside those neighbourhoods the voice of the Jewish mother is not heard except in organizations like Women in Black, which the society in general condemns and vilifies. The State of Israel condemns and vilifies the voice of the Jewish mother, which is the voice of compassion, tolerance, and dialogue. The State of Israel does all it can to ensure that that voice will be muted and silenced forever.

Outside the peace organizations that are considered in the general discourse to be marginal sleepwalkers and extreme leftists, the voice of the Jewish mother ceased long ago to be a maternal voice. The Israeli mother as she exists today embodies a motherhood that is distorted, lost, confused, and sick. The Jewish mothers like Yocheved,the mother of Moses; like Rachel who wept for her children and refused to be comforted; like Mother Courage; the mother who cannot find solace and healing in the death of the children of another mother, have been replaced by mothers who are nothing but golems that have turned on their creators and are more terrible and cruel than they, who dedicate their wombs to the apartheid state and to the occupation army, who educate their children in uncompromising racism and are prepared to sacrifice the fruits of their bellies on the altar of their leaders’ megalomania, greed, and bloodthirstiness. Those mothers are also to be found among the teachers and the educators of our day. And only the women who stand here week after week, in the rain and under the sun, they are the one and only reminder that the voice of the other motherhood, the natural one, has not completely disappeared from the face of this wasteland that had once been the Holy Land..

Few are the parents in Israel who admit to themselves that the murderers of children, destroyers of houses, uprooters of olives, and poisoners of wells are none other than their own beautiful sons and daughters, their children who have been educated in this place over the years in the school of hatred and racism. The children have learned for 18 years to fear and despise the stranger, to always fear the neighbours, the gentiles, children who were brought up in the fear of Islam – a fear that prepares them to be brutal soldiers and disciples of mass murderers. And not only do those boys and girls kill and torment; they do so with the full support of Mom, with the full appreciation of Dad, encouraged by this entire nation, which does not so much as raise an eyebrow at the deaths of children, of old and of disabled people. A nation that rallies around pilots who do not feel a thing except a bump on the wing** when they drop bombs on entire families or crush them to death.

In this hell in which we live, in the daily inferno under which stirs and grows the underground kingdom of dead children, the role of the Women in Black, the mothers and the grandmothers who stand in this square*** and in similar squares all over the world, is to be the guardian of sane natural motherhood and to ensure that its voice is not silenced and does not disappear from the face of the Earth. To remind a world that has lost its human image that we were all made in His Image; consistently and tirelessly to say that still, despite the apartheid Wall, despite the cruel siege of Gaza, despite the wars without cause, and in the face of the fury of the rulers of this country, all of whom down to the last one are criminals against humanity, the voice of women and mothers – the voice of compassion, justice, and hope – will not be silenced. More power to you.

* An ultra-orthodox Jewish neighbourhood in Jerusalem most of whose residents do not recognize the State of Israel and most of whom do not serve in the Israeli armed forces – trans.

** The reference is to Israeli air force pilot and former IDF Chief-of-Staff Dan Halutz, who, when asked by a journalist – shortly after the Israeli air force dropped a one-ton bomb on an apartment building in the Gaza Strip killing several civilians – what he felt as a pilot when he dropped a bomb, replied “I feel a slight bump on the wing when the bomb is released” – trans.

*** Paris Square in Jerusalem

Thursday, January 03, 2008

More school district news

A couple of local papers are pursuing the story now, and we should be reading about it soon, and that should help protect other kids in future. Between the papers and the CDE, I hope we may get the missing records soon.

I talked with the SELPA director today, and we're agreed on early in the afternoon on the 21st or 24th, depending on what can be worked out with the other participants. We will probably do it in Chino, since that will shorten the rides of most of us.

Stephen is impatient to get on with the meeting, which he looks forward to. It disappointed him that the 15th won't work.