Thursday, June 28, 2012

Suspended with Pay / For Donating while Gay

(Hey, it rhymes!)

This morning I was notified of Indiana University's decision to extend my suspension, with pay, until the end of the period of my original contract. This means I will still be paid until July 30, but will not be allowed to teach or be in contact with the people who until last week were my students and colleagues.

This, after a brief meeting I had yesterday with the vice provost for faculty and academic affairs and one of the associate deans of the College of Arts and Sciences.

I will let the vice provost's letter speak for itself. I have only redacted a few addresses and names that are not pertinent to the affair. Beneath the letter is my short response, sent to Dr. Gieryn via email.

My response:

Dear Dr. Gieryn,

Thank you for promptly informing me of the resolution of your investigation.

Upon payment of my July salary, I will immediately donate $1,000 to the Indiana University Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Student Support Services Office.

Uri Horesh

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Radio Interview

I tried unsuccessfully to upload an audio file of a radio interview I did yesterday with Michaelangelo Signiorile here. However, I did manage to upload it elsewhere. Enjoy.

Queer, fierce, non-violent

I don't think I've done this before (with the exception of articles I've translated into English or Arabic), but I'm devoting this post to an article I just read elsewhere. I have tweeted it. I posted it on Facebook. But it is so relevant to everything that I have been doing in the past few years, and indeed in the past few days, that I felt a strong urge to share it here as well.

I have been asked this week several times, by friends, journalists and university administrators, why I did what I did; why I "had" to protest the FDA ban on "gay blood;" why I didn't leave the bloodmobile when I was asked to; essentially, why wasn't I just a good little heteronormative, capitalist, Zionist, Judeo-Christian, Western, patriarchal, monogamous, little boy. 

Joseph Varilone, I don't know you, but here's to you, my friend:

By Joseph Varilone, LSA Senior at the University of Michigan

Friday, June 22, 2012

Follow up: To resign or not to resign?

Following my arrest on Wednesday, and upon my release from the county jail on Thursday, I phoned my boss at the summer program at Indiana University in which I have been teaching for the past few weeks and offered my resignation out of good will. This, after she had asked my father to assure me that I would still be a welcome member in the program.

Today, she phoned me and followed up with an email repeating a very different message than the one she had previously conveyed to my father.

I am still unsure how to respond. The message is appended below, verbatim (copied addressees are a dean and lawyers at the general counsel office; email addresses have been redacted):

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Stern-Gottschalk, Ariann"
Date: June 22, 2012 5:11:25 PM EDT
To: Uri Horesh
Cc: "Bucur-Deckard, Maria", "O'Guinn, M Dave", "Springston, Emily Auld"
Subject: Follow-up to today's phone call

Dear Uri:

I am writing to follow-up on our phone call today.

I appreciate your offer of resignation and that may be the most appropriate resolution of this matter. I am not requiring you to resign, but doing so is an option for you to resolve this matter efficiently. If you wish to resign, please put your resignation in writing to me no later than Monday, June 25. I would like to assure you that the reasons for your resignation will be kept confidential and not shared with your colleagues and students.

If you choose not to resign, per the University’s normal process, I will suspend you with pay pending an investigation into your underlying conduct. As you are aware, you are subject to the code of conduct set forth for all academic personnel, and I thus have to review available information to determine if your conduct violated the code, and if such conduct rises to the level of a sanction and/or the termination of your employment.

If I do not hear from you in writing by the close of business on Monday, June 25, I will move forward with the investigation.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

My first arrest. Ever. Yesterday. In Bloomington, Indiana, USA.

Posting this update is probably not the wisest move from a legal standpoint, and perhaps in the next few days (tomorrow?) once I retain legal counsel, I will be advised to remove it, but in the meantime, here goes, very briefly.

Yesterday I saw a Red Cross bloodmobile on the Indiana University campus, right outside the building where I work. I wasn't born yesterday. I know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not allow any United States-based blood bank to accept blood donations from and men who, since 1977 have had sexual contact, even once, with other men, whether it be protected sex or not. But I wanted to make a point.

I went in, waited for my turn, had my blood pressure and hemoglobin checked, and proceded to answer a computerized questionnaire. When it was reviewed by the Red Cross employee, I was told that because I answered the question about having had sex with other men the way I did, I would be deferred indefinitely from donating blood. 

I, in turn, told her that she was in violation of the Indiana University nondiscrimination policy, which, among others, prohibits banning any person from participating in university activities on the basis of sexual orientation. She called another Red Cross employee, who in turn called another Red Cross employee, who in turn called Indiana University Police.

Two police officers arrived at the bloodmobile, refusing to listen to anything I had to say. They grabbed me, refused to read me my rights under Miranda, even when I explicitly asked them to (they eventually did, after I was handcuffed and placed in the police car), and only told me I was under arrest after I asked them whether I was.

I later learned from one of the officers that one of the Red Cross employees (he referred to her as a "nurse") accused me of spitting at her. That is a false accusation. But in the State of Indiana, spitting at someone is considered "battery," and the mere charge of battery warrants placing the person arrested for that charge in custody for 24 hours. 

I will spare you the details of my experience in Monroe County Jail. That, in and of its own, is worth a short story, which I currently lack the patience to write. But yes, I spent 24 hours in jail. And I now face three misdemeanor charges (battery, resisting law enforcement and disorderly conduct).

In other words, I am being put on trial for another person's homophobia.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Beginning of the Demise of Pinkwashing?

My therapist constantly warns me against predicting the future. To be fair, he particularly has taught me to be cautious of negative predictions. So perhaps predicting that pinkwashing is on its way out isn't as hazardous to our collective mental health as some other things might have been. But there have been signs, including a thing or two that I have written about here, and some stupid and/or vicious things said by Israeli politicians just in recent days that indicate that it may becoming more hip in Israel to be Rick Santorumesque than to be in Michael Oren's shoes at Equality Forum.

But all of this is, for now, just a hypothesis, and that's all I'm willing to say at this juncture that is not completely based on solid facts. What follows will be one of the things I do best, which is to deal with language. I will provide you with a translation of an excerpt of an interview with MK (that's Member of Knesset, the Israeli parliament) Uri Ariel on the Knesset's own television channel. This excerpt is provided here as a YouTube clip in Hebrew, and it was also embedded in the following Mako article in Hebrew, within their [LGBT] Pride portal:

The interviewer is veteran journalist Nechama Duek. 

ND: Not to draft them to the army, for instance, the gays?
UA: That's a question that the army has to answer.
ND: What do you think?
UA: If I had to decide, I think that I wouldn't draft them, but not ... 
ND: Why?
UA: Remarkable, eh?
ND: Yes.
UA: Well, okay, why? Because I think that there are things that interfere with the army's ability to fight. And that there are phenomena that are not...
ND: A gay man is less brave than a man who is not?
UA: I'm not talking about one particular man, or about ten, whether they're brave or not. The question is about the natural phenomena, and about whether we conduct ourselves according to the values that we have in Judaism and in the Torah, or whether we conduct ourselves in a different manner. I think that by and large, we have to behave in the spirit of Judaism à la millennia. It seems that it was prevalent, and was probably very popular, mostly among the peoples of the region, so that Israel, the People of Israel arrived in the region and was exposed to phenomena of this sort, and probably adopted some of these phenomena. And therefore the Torah goes against it very severely and with extremely harsh punishments. 
ND: Yes.
UA: Does punishment help? I believe that by and large, yes. If you ask me whether they do specifically for these cases, for this type, I don't know.
ND: "This type?" Are you afraid to utter the word "homosexuality?" What's "this type?"
UA: No, no, gays and lesbians...
ND: Okay, and transgenders too...
UA: No, if anyone was ofended that I said "this type,"I have no problem calling them names. They appear, as I said, in the Torah. Our Torah doesn't cover up anything, it doesn't hide anything, but it confronts the issues.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Middle Eastern Story for American Father's Day

I am 42 years old. For as long as I can remember, I have called my mother אמא – íma – the generic Hebrew word for 'mom,' but since 1973 I have called my father by his first name, Ruvik.

In 1972, when I was 2 years old, my family moved temporarily from the Tel Aviv area to New York City, where my father began his doctoral studies at Columbia University. About a year and a half into our stay in New York, the October War began in the Middle East. For reasons that I will not delve into here, my father, as well as his now late cousin Elisha, and Noach, the man who would later marry my aunt Yovi (also deceased now), both of whom were also in New York in various capacities, all decided to volunteer for reserve duty in the Israeli army. They flew to Tel Aviv and joined their respective military units.

My family decided that I was too young to be told that אבא – ába – 'dad' was off to war. So I was just told that he went to Israel to do some work. But friends of the family, Yael and Haim Ben-Shahar, who were also temporary New Yorkers at the time, frequented our home with their children. Their youngest, Gili (sadly, also no longer alive), was about 8 years old, and was sort of my mentor. She explained to me that my father was not in Israel for "work," but rather for war, and that a consequence of war could be death.

Being the 3 year-old that I was, I took Gili's mentorship quite seriously, and interpreted "could be death" as "must be death." Thus, in my young mind, aba – 'dad' – was dead.

Six weeks later, when the same man who had departed for "work" / war returned alive and well, I had to make up a story to make sense of it all. It was easy: this newcomer was my late father's twin brother, who happened to have the same first name as my dad. Therefore, I would simply call him Ruvik, the nickname most people used to refer to my father, Reuven.

Shortly thereafter I did, of course, realize that this was, indeed, my father and not some bogus twin uncle. I had made several attempts at calling him aba, but it just never felt natural.

Interestingly, my brother, who was born three years later, also calls my father Ruvik (and my mother ima), but for a somewhat different reason. He simply had no role models at home who called Ruvik anything else but Ruvik. Or at least, that's how I interpret it.

הארץ Haaretz

العربية.نت | آخر الأخبار Al-Arabiya