For over three years, a small, anonymous group called “rose city antifa” has been trying to oust me from the Citybikes co-op in Portland, Oregon, of which I am a founder member, supposedly because of ‘antisemitic organizing’. Tactics have included graffiti, online advocacy of violence, and the use of ‘politically correct’ language to make it sound as if people ‘feel oppressed’ by my alleged political opinions, and those of people I have associated with, as a result of my participation in the local “9/11 Truth” movement. The campaign has now reached the point where the ‘anti’ fascists are trying to persuade customers to boycott Citybikes until they fire me.
Tim Calvert, CityBikes
My personal declaration
An example of an invitation to a 9/11 truth movement event
My letter to Citybikes, defending me and the co-op against Zionist/anti-fascist harassment
My personal declaration
I believe that the attacks against me by rose city antifa are not, in fact, related to my participation in the 9-11 group and the occasional speakers I have been associated with, but instead, due to my pro-Palestinian activism, and criticism of Israel. The vehemence and underhandedness with which this anonymous group attacks me looks very similar to the standard Hasbara (Israeli propagandist) smear of anyone critical of Israel. For example, as well as denouncing right-wing ‘conspiracy theorists’ like Fritz Springmeier, the ‘anti’ fascists equally smear liberal pro-Palestinian writer Alison Weir as an ‘antisemitic activist’. These smears exceed those of the influential Zionist organization the Anti-Defamation League, and show that defending us from fascism is not the real purpose of rose city antifa.
Since the death of Rachael Corrie in 2003 and then the savage attack on the refugees in Gaza in 2009 I have been a visible vocal critic of the Israeli state and the lobby which protects it here in the United States. Thus I join the ranks of other critics of Israel in having my name smeared publicly and my career threatened. My politics have been represented by the three buttons I have worn pretty continuously since 2009. “We are all Palestinians” “Islam is not our Enemy” and “Peace with Iran”. I have been actively involved in Solidarity with the Iraqi refugee community that now resides in Portland. These are the things I believe in.
This aggressive attempt to peg me to all sorts of noxious “beliefs” is pretty standard practice in Hasbara technique. Below is the response I sent to the bike cooperative with links further explaining the sort of political milieu that Palestinian Solidarity Activists must navigate. To rose city antifa I would like to suggest that rather than dividing, demoralizing and attacking peace and justice workers, they propose positive campaigns that would unite our positions. I would suggest that they employ their aggressive techniques to helping the people of Portland mount a material aid caravan to the people of Gaza.
Finally I would like to say that I feel personally threatened, it is clear that the rose city antifa is a prototype of a black-op militia that could escalate to violence at any moment. Their targeting of me and Citybikes suggests that collateral damage is of no concern to them in their quest of ideological hegemony. My future is uncertain as of now, but I would like to appeal to my colleagues in the peace and justice community for solidarity and support.
Here is the announcement for the potluck for which I am being attacked:
Tired of Propaganda?
Feel smothered by people parroting lies? Well this potluck is for you!
Bring food you like to eat and beverages you like to drink to share with others! A Bullshit Free zone will exist around area G. People who talk about the 9-11 false flag, Portland’s water system and why we must stop the poisoning of the water via fluoride, Palestine and how we are all Palestinians, peace, justice and anything else; will be there.
There will be an extra interesting participant, Fritz Springmeier, at the potluck. Find out about him come and ask a question.
Letter to the Citybikes Cooperative
Tim Calvert, 9/18/2012
Dear fellow cooperators.
I am sorry that once again my political activity has drawn the coop into the spot light. The accusations against me are politically motivated and false. I have been a lifelong activist for peace and justice and “hate” no one.
It is obvious from the latest round of attacks that even holding a potluck at a park is too much political activity for my oppressors. It is also painfully clear that I am under heavy surveillance from people who aim to do me harm.
Therefore I am publically announcing my resignation and distancing myself from the 9-11 truth group and will no longer organize any events associated with them. I do this because I want to protect Citybikes from defamation and because the 9-11 group has been effectively suppressed in Portland.
There is, of course, a lot more to say. I will bring information to the meeting on Monday to share that further elaborates my position and affirms my struggle for human rights for all. When I helped co-found Citybikes Worker Owned Cooperative 23 years ago, one of my motivations was to create a business that protected the rights of the owners/workers to organize politically without the fear of reprisal. I hope this dream of people cooperating for a better world, with dignity and freedom of thought, and speech and association is not just a pipe dream.
In Solidarity, Tim
Here is my further account:
Further responses and proposals about the current slander attack
I would like to say that this slanderous attack is underhanded and a real disservice to the Portland community. I have stood for 30 plus years as an advocate for the oppressed insisting on respectful communication and actions with my fellow citizens, customers, and co-workers. I would hope that the direct communication and interactions that I have had with my co-workers carries a little more weight than the slanderously spun accusations and lies directed at me.
Below are a series of links to relevant information that shed light on why Palestinian solidarity activists are especially targeted for punishment.
Finally, this group is trying to suppress my human and civil rights. I have done nothing illegal or un-ethical. I have the right to the freedom of thought, speech, and association. These are human rights protected by the First amendment and by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Citybikes should put forward our support of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a document that represents our values. I would also propose that Citybikes contact a lawyer to brief us on our rights and responsibilities in this circumstance.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
This group makes accusations about people who have spoken at public events that I am associated with, but not about what they actually said at these public events. I have organized no event in which the speaker was advocating hate of any specific group or ethnicity. I cannot vouch for, nor should I have to, what they may or may not have said in the past. Unlike my oppressors I do not spend my time researching every “incorrect” thing a person may or may not have said, I stand by the dialogue I have with the individual- not their past, nor opinions I did not know about. I reject being judged in this way, as once again this abridges my human rights.
I am being set up as some sort of leader of the 9-11 group. I am not a leader, there are no leaders. I was not the one to suggest Fritz Springmeier attend the potluck in the park, but I did not say no he can’t come; did I witness him doing anything inappropriate? No, he played bocce ball.
I understand how facing a hidden cabal of agents who apparently have the time and money to detail my life, at least their version of my life, can be a little daunting, I know that I am a little troubled by the manifestation of a militia or black-op group targeting me and the people near me. Know that I work for human rights, justice and peace and that I need your support and help.
One specific quote from the Tikkun article that I want to highlight:
“The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth. The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views, the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors.”
We should all find alarming that what is taking place in the academy today is an extension of what takes place on Capitol Hill and in the corridors of (real) power. What is at stake is the process of representation, which shapes memory, disposition, and arguably — in the long run at any rate — the policy process itself. Many of the same tactics are being used in both situations; and they share the aim to monopolize legitimacy by tarnishing all criticism and questioning it as inherently illegitimate and malevolent.
Oh and here is another quote:
The Pro-Israel Propaganda Handbook
It is not surprising, then, given its provenance, that the Stand With Us report on “Gaza and Human Rights” expresses what pro-Israel campus activists refer to using the Hebrew word “hasbara.” This means, essentially if not literally, “propaganda.” “The Hasbara Handbook: Promoting Israel on Campus”, which is distributed to campus activists by organizations like Stand With Us (e.g., click “Guides for Activists” on http://www.middle-east-info.org), explains that it is often better to score points than to engage in actual arguments, and offers an explanation for how, in its own words, “to score points whilst avoiding debate.” Point-scoring, the Hasbara Handbook explains, “works because most audience members fail to analyze what they hear. Rather, they register only a key few points, and form a vague ‘impression’ of whose argument was stronger.” Part of the strategy is to recycle the same claims over and again, in as many settings as possible. “If people hear something often enough,” the document points out, “they come to believe it.”
The Hasbara Handbook offers several other propaganda devices, all of which can be seen vividly at play in the coverage of the UCLA Gaza panel and other similar events, including, again, the Robinson affair. “Creating negative connotations by name calling is done to try to get the audience to reject a person or idea on the basis of negative associations, without allowing a real examination of that person or idea,” the handbook states with remarkable bluntness, in advocating that tactic. It also suggests using the opposite of name calling, to defend Israel by what it calls the deployment of “glittering generalities” (words like “freedom,” “civilization,” “democracy”) to describe the country; manipulating the audience’s fears (“listeners are too preoccupied by the threat of terrible things to think critically about the speaker’s message”); and so on. The point of all this is not to use arguments backed by reason and evidence. It is, instead, to manipulate (the handbook’s own term) an audience precisely in order not to examine.
Solidarity activist or racist?