Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Columbia University's Boies Schiller Flexner and U.S. Senator Gillibrand Connection

Should Boies Schiller Flexner managing partner and Gillibrand campaign contributor also chair the tax-exempt Columbia University board of trustees?

Boies Schiller and Flexner [BSF] announced today that partner Kirsten Gillibrand was elected…She raised some $3 million in campaign contributions, including substantial support from colleagues at BSF…The Firm issued the following statement: `We are extremely proud of our partner…’ Ms. Gillibrand…is on leave while she serves in Washington.’…”

--from a Nov. 8, 2006 Boies Schiller Flexner [BSF] press release 

“Jonathan is a co-founder and managing partner of Boies Schiller Flexner…He has served as lead counsel…for clients including Barclays, Goldman Sachs, the New York Yankees, and the fantasy sports website DraftKings….He has represented global corporations based in the United States, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Kuwait, and Singapore… Jonathan serves as Chair of Columbia University’s Board of Trustees...”

--from the Boies Schiller Flexner website

“…Endowment fund earnings are exempt from federal income tax….Changing the tax treatment of college and university endowments…could be modified to increase federal revenues...”

--from a Dec. 2015 Congressional Research Services Report

Columbia University’s Boies Schiller Flexner and U.S. Senator Gillibrand Connection

Most people in the United States don’t think private U.S. universities owning valuable real estate property and billions of dollars’ worth of corporate stocks and bonds in their endowment portfolio—like Columbia University, Harvard University and NYU—should be exempt from paying their fair share of federal, state and city corporate and property taxes.

Yet since being named by former Democratic New York Governor David Paterson in 2009 to replace Hillary Clinton as one of New York State’s representatives in the U.S. Senate, a former Boies Schiller Flexner [BSF] corporate law firm partner, Kirsten Gillibrand, has apparently not been eager to introduce much federal legislation to require private U.S. universities like Columbia University to pay their fair share of federal taxes.

One reason might be because the current chair of tax-exempt Columbia University’s board of trustees, Jonathan Schiller, is, coincidentally, a co-founder and  managing partner of the same BSF law firm in which U.S. Senator Gillibrand previously worked, prior to being first elected in 2006 to just represent New York’s 20th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Also coincidentally, prior to former New York Governor Paterson naming former BSF partner Gillibrand to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton, the election campaign fund of Paterson was given two campaign contributions, totaling $50,000, by two BSF law firm partners on Dec. 23, 2008. As Zack Lowe observed in an article, titled “Former Boies Schiller Partner Will Fill Clinton Senate Seat,” that appeared in the Jan. 23, 2009 issue of The American Lawyer:

“Kirsten Gillibrand, the upstate Democratic congresswoman and former Boies Schiller Flexner partner…will replace Hillary Rodham Clinton in the U.S. Senate…The Village Voice…posted a nice bio of Gillibrand, outlining her father’s ties to New York’s most powerful Republicans…Gillibrand is a favorite of the National Rifle Association…

“The most interesting tidbit in the Voice piece for our purposes is the fact that David Boies (name partner at Boies Schiller Flexner) contributed $25,000 to Paterson’s campaign fund on Dec. 23, 2008. Boies’s son, Christopher, also a partner at the firm, wrote a $25,000 check to the governor’s campaign the same day…”

The law firm of Columbia University Board of Trustees Chair Schiller, not surprisingly, has also been the number one source of campaign contributions to former BSF partner-turned U.S. Representative/U.S. Senator Gillibrand since she began her federal office-seeking career, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets website data. Over $668,000 in campaign contributions from individuals employed at Schiller’s BSF law firm have been accepted by Gillibrand’s election campaign committees during her political career.

Schiller, for example, contributed over $9,500 to Gillibrand’s campaign committee between Jan. 30, 2009 and March 3, 2011; and, on May 12, 2014, Schiller made a $5,000 campaign contribution to Gillibrand’s Off The Sidelines PAC. The Open Secrets website data also indicates that during the 2015-2016 campaign cycle Gillibrand’s Off The Sidelines PAC was given $27,800 by individuals employed at Schiller’s law firm, making BSF the 5th-largest source of money for Gillibrand’s Off The Sidelines PAC during the 2015-2016 period.

In addition to contributing funds to Gillibrand’s campaign committee and Off The Sidelines PAC, Columbia University’s board of trustees chair also contributed over $67,000 to the politically partisan campaign committees of other Democratic Party politicians’ campaigns (including over $7,300 to Hillary Clinton’s campaign committees and over $11,00 to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer’s campaign committees) and over $152,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee between Apr. 30, 2001 and June 1, 2016 (including a $33,400 campaign contribution on March 23, 2015). Schiller also made a $10,000 campaign contribution to Minnesota’s Democratic Farmer Labor Party state organization on Oct. 2, 2014.

BSF Chairman David Boies, who co-founded the BSF law firm with Schiller, has, however, contributed much more money than Schiller to fund the election campaigns of Democratic Party politicians on both the federal and state level between 1999 and 2017, according to the Open Secrets website’s data. Between Oct. 28, 2004 and Oct. 25, 2016, the BSF chairman and co-founder made 49 campaign contributions, totalling over $388,000, to help bankroll the Democratic State Party organizations in 34 different states.

On Sept. 13, 2016, for example, Boies gave a separate $10,000 campaign contribution to the state Democratic Party organization in each of the following states: Maine, Missouri, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Texas, New Mexico, Virginia, Colorado, Florida, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Oregon, West Virginia, Wyoming, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Georgia, Nevada, Montana, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Delaware, Tennessee and Alaska; and on that same day, the state Democratic Party organization in Kentucky was given two campaign contributions, totaling $20,000, by Schiller’s law firm business partner.

The following month, Boies also gave a $10,000  campaign contribution to Iowa’s state Democratic Party organization on Oct. 11, 2016 and his second 2016 campaign contribution of $10,000 to Nevada’s state Democratic Party organization on Oct. 26, 2016. In addition, on June 30, 2016 the Democratic Committee of New York State was also given a $10,000 campaign contribution by the chairman and co-founder of the Columbia University-linked BSF.

On the national level, Boies gave five campaign contributions, totaling $278,000, to the Democratic National Committee [DNC] Services Corporation between June 22, 2011 and Sept. 26, 2016; and, between Dec. 31, 2007 and March 23, 2015, over $183,000 was contributed by Schiller’s BSF co-founder to the Democratic Party’s Senatorial Campaign Committee. In addition, Boies gave a $500,000 campaign contribution to the House Majority PAC Super-PAC on Oct. 24, 2013 and two campaign contributions, totalling another $500,000 to the Senate Majority Super PAC, between Oct. 28, 2013 and Oct. 25, 2016.

Over $232,000 in direct money contributions to the individual campaign committees of at least 44 Democratic Party politicians other than former BSF law firm partner Gillibrand have also been made by Schiller’s BSF business partner between 1999 and 2017 (including over $13,000 to Rep. Charles Rangel’s campaign committee, over $13,000 to Rep. Nita Lowey’s campaign committee, over $11,000 to U.S. Senator Al Franken and over $6,000 to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer).

According to David A. Kaplan’s Oct. 20, 2010 Fortune magazine article, Schiller and Boies’s BSF firm of 240 lawyers “revolutionized the economics of corporate law practice” and, coincidentally, had “the nation’s third-highest profits per equity partner-$2.9 million” among large corporate law firms. The same article also noted that “Boies Schiller…has regular corporate clients to maintain a stream of revenue,” but Schiller and Boies’ firm also “imitates investment banks by charging flat fees,” so that a firm client’s “signing bonus, for example, can be $10 million -- regardless of how much lawyer time actually gets put in.” The Fortune magazine article also indicated that in 2010, about half of BSF’s revenue “came from flat fees and contingency arrangements,” while BSF’s regular corporate clients were apparently being billed for a BSF lawyer’s time at a $960 per hour rate in 2010.

One reason Boies has apparently been able to contribute so much money in recent years to bankroll the election campaigns of Democratic Party politicians like former BSF law firm partner Gillibrand is that BSF apparently was paid a $150 million fee “on top of an annual $5 million fee” in 2008 for representing American Express in a legal case; and “a law firm source” told Fortune magazine that Boies was personally taking “north of $10 million” annually from his legal work, thus “probably making him the highest-paid lawyer in the country” in 2010.

Besides providing legal services for American Express, Columbia Board of Trustees Chair Schiller and BSF Chairman Boies’ law firm has also provided legal services for tobacco companies like Philip Morris/Altria, R.J. Reynolds and Ligget’s and for other corporate clients like Goldman Sachs, DuPont, Apple, Barclays, CBS, Oracle and Sony.

After Wikileaks, in April 2015, published on its site the emails that a hacker had previously obtained from Sony’s server, BSF Chairman and Co-Founder Boies, for example, spent the following week “sending out a hyperbolic letter to various news organizations pressuring them to avert their eyes from the hacked email trove that WikiLeaks published” and “misleadingly claiming that journalists could be breaking US law by even looking at the emails,” according to Trevor Timm’s April 22, 2015 London Guardian column.

In the same column, Trevor Timm also noted that “New York Times reporter Eric Lipton” had previously “won a prize for his…investigative series on how private companies and their lobbyists are colluding with state attorneys general to pursue corporate agendas in secret, which prominently featured emails from the hacked Sony trove in one story;” and BSF lawyers for “Sony should not be able to tell journalists what to print,” since “news organizations have a First Amendment right to publish newsworthy information that they know was stolen, as long as they did not participate in the underlying crime.”

Coincidentally, Boies and Schiller’s BSF corporate law firm also includes the following ex-U.S. government officials: former Federal Communications Commission [FCC] Enforcement Chief Travis LeBlanc; former Clinton and Bush II White House National Security Council Director for Transnational Threats Leo Wolosky; and the Obama Administration’s former U.S. Ambassador to the UN for Special Political Affairs and Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security David Pressman.

According to a March 4, 2017 BSF press release, BSF law partner LeBlanc was “the chief law enforcement officer at the FCC” who “spearheaded hundreds of enforcement actions.” Yet now LeBlanc “will help clients manage their litigation, regulatory risk and direct strategic responses to government enforcement efforts,” despite an FCC rule that apparently only prohibits him for one year from working on the same issues he was working on at the FCC.

As the former chief FCC law enforcement officer told Big Law Business reporter Stephanie Russell Kraft in a March 9, 2017 interview:

“I’m going to be working on privacy and cybersecurity issues. It’s an area where, in the last few years in government, I’ve been very active, both on the state level in California and on the national level at the FCC. I’m going to spend a lot of time working on the issues that tech companies face when dealing with government regulatory bodies, the kinds of issues that say, an Uber faces when trying to enter a new city, or what Airbnb faces when trying to figure out how laws about public accommodation apply to them. As someone who’s had state experience and federal experience..., I believe I have a skill set that will be extremely valuable to a lot of tech companies, and being backed by the litigation powerhouse at Boies Schiller, should we need to go down that road, will be a huge asset.

“…I expect to be working on specific matters, like companies embroiled in investigations. Sometimes a federal enforcement action or a state action spawns a private class action or another private action. I expect to be advising companies on the front end to help avoid becoming ensnared in a federal or state legal issue, then advising them when there is an incident, then helping them should it turn into an actual enforcement action or litigation, so legal services for the full cycle of an issue….

“…The innovators that are trying to break in, that’s who I hope to continue to support in private practice. A lot of innovators, the companies that are disrupting the way we think about business, are in Silicon Valley. As they disrupt the marketplace they’re also in the position of disrupting the regulatory and legal structure that we’ve set up. Helping them deal with the problems that come from being disruptive is a space where I can offer them particular value….”

Given tax-exempt Columbia and Senator Gillibrand’s current and historic connection to BSF, it’s not likely that Columbia’s Journalism School or Gillibrand will examine very much whether or not it’s ethical for a former FCC enforcement officer to apparently walk through “the revolving door,” to “switch sides” and begin working as a “hired gun”-lawyer for corporate clients the FCC is purportedly regulating.

Nor is it likely that U.S. Senator Gillibrand will be eager to push for more federal legislation that would, for example, compel Columbia to pay a fair share of federal taxes or limit the amount of money that the co-founders, chairman and managing partner at Columbia Board of Trustees’ Chair Schiller’s BSF law firm are allowed to contribute each year to politically partisan Democratic Party or Republican Party campaign committees and organizations in the United States.

Yet is this “what democracy” is supposed to “look like” at Columbia “BSF” University in 2017?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Columbia University's Barnard College Dean Gildersleeve: Supported Palestinian Rights In 20th Century--Conclusion

In her 1954 autobiography, Many A Good Crusade: Memoirs of Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, the Dean of Barnard College of Columbia University between 1911 and 1947, Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, wrote the following:  

"The Israelis rapidly filled with Jewish immigrants the homes and farms of the Arabs who had fled and whom they did not allow to return. For every Jew who found refuge an Arab went forth homeless onto the Desert. On a fair estimate 700,000 former refugees were cared for, and 700,000 new refugees created; the world as a whole was no better off.

"...The number of Arab refugees has been officially estimated by the United Nations' authorities as over 880,000 [in 1954] men, women, and children, they still live mostly in tents, caves, and temporary shacks [in 1954], partially clothed by charity, partially fed by the two dollars a month allowance [in 1954] given them by the United Nations. They want to go home, and this they cannot do..."

(end of article)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Columbia University's Barnard College Dean Gildersleeve: Supported Palestinian Rights In 20th Century--Part 8

In her 1954 autobiography, Many A Good Crusade: Memoirs of Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, the Dean of Barnard College of Columbia University between 1911 and 1947, Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, wrote the following: 

"...When the proposal for the partition of Palestine came before the General Assembly--the Ad Hoc Committee, with our approval, rejected the proposal that the International Court of Justice should be asked to rule upon the legal status of Palestine, and finally, by a majority of the nations actually voting, adopted the partition plan. But when this recommendation came before the Assembly, not merely a majority, but a two-thirds vote was needed. Then tremendous pressure was exerted because of Zionist influence, not only through the United States Government but by powerful private individuals and organizations. Five countries which had indicated their intention of voting against the partition were special targets,--Haiti, Liberia, the Philippines, Ethiopia, and Greece. All except Greece were either won to voting for the partition or persuaded to abstain. Thus the United States succeeded in forcing through the partition proposal.

"...Meanwhile, the Arabs and the Zionists were fighting in Palestine. That unhappy land was torn with violence, fear and cruelty. Outstanding among the horrors was the massacre of Dair Yaseen in early April [1948]. The whole population of that Arab village, women and children, the aged and infirm, as well as the able-bodied men, were massacred by the Zionist terrorists in cold blood. As the news of this slaughter spread through the country hundreds of thousands of other Arabs from villages and towns fled from their homes and possessions to save their lives, expecting of course, like all those who in the past have fled from floods, wars, and eruptions, to return to their houses and farms when the terror had passed.

"Since they have never been able to do so, reprisals from Arabs on Zionists and counter-reprisals from Zionists on Arabs followed Dair Yaseen, and the chain of tragedies continued until the destruction of the Arab village of Kibya by Israeli armed forces in 1953 redoubled the tension, which seems destined to continue indefinitely..."

(end of part 8)

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Columbia University's Barnard College Dean Gildersleeve: Supported Palestinian Rights in 20th Century--Part 7

In her 1954 autobiography, Many A Good Crusade: Memoirs of Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, the Dean of Barnard College of Columbia University between 1911 and 1947, Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, wrote the following: 

"...In 1952 I resigned the Chairmanship of the Board of Directors of Reid Hall, which I had held for over 30 years...

"...I have spoken of the rise of the Zionist movement and the forcing into the small country of Palestine of many thousands of Jewish immigrants, against the will of the Arab majority of the population, whose ancestors had held and tilled the land for over a thousand years. The long and intricate history of this movement reached one of its culminating points in the autumn of 1947 when the General Assembly of the United Nations considered a report from a special U.N. committee recommending that on the ending of the British Mandate Palestine be divided into two states,--one Arab and the other Jewish, with economic union between them and Jerusalem internationalized. The Jewish state was to contain the greater part of the fertile land of that arid country and the only first-class deep-water ports. The proposal aroused a storm of protest from all the member nations in the Middle East who objected to it vehemently; but the Delegation of the United States of America, that country which of all the West the peoples of the Middle East had looked upon as their best friend, was ordered by President Truman to support the partition plan, and every resource of propaganda was used by the American Zionists to present the idea favorably to the people of America and to prevent the opponents of it, whether they were Christian, Moslem, or Jew, from being heard...

"...Unhappily, this delicate and difficult question had become a kind of football in American politics. Perhaps there is a `Jewish vote' in New York which might determine the casting of the state's 45 electoral votes in a presidential election, though I doubt it. At all events the Zionists succeeded in convincing both the Democratic and the Republican politicians that they did control a Jewish vote, especially in the state of New York, and they urged upon the party leaders the necessity of coming out strongly in favor of the partition plan. When President Truman had insisted that the British, under the Mandate, admit immediately 100,000 more Jews, Governor Dewey of the State of New York, his Republican opponent, had promptly urged the admission of 200,000. I do not doubt that President Truman and Governor Dewey, besides political motives, were animated also by humanitarian concern for the Jewish refugees and, having probably heard only one side of the question, believed that they were pursuing a humane and generous course. It is easy to imagine, however, with what bitterness the Arabs saw the fate of their people being sacrificed by American political leaders who insisted that American foreign policy must be determined by the needs of local politics..."

(end of part 7) 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Columbia University's Barnard College Dean Gildersleeve: Supported Palestinian Rights In 20th Century--Part 6

In her 1954 autobiography, Many A Good Crusade: Memoirs of Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, the Dean of Barnard College of Columbia University between 1911 and 1947, Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, wrote the following: 

"...Not all the Zionists merely denounced me. Many of them sent me interesting material about Palestine and the projects for settlement and development. Some of them chose to call at my office and discussed the great problem with me, and I continued for several years my humble efforts to help get some sort of just and peaceful settlement.

"My most moving experience during these efforts was on a day when I called in New York upon Dr. Judah Magnes, a distinguished and a noble Jew, for many years President of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a much-loved leader in Palestine, and author of a plan whereby he felt confident that Jews, Moslems, and Christians could live together peacefully in the Holy Land. I shall always remember the very touching way in which he spoke of his friends and neighbors in Jerusalem--Jews and Arabs alike--and his confidence that they could live in peace and work together for the welfare of their country. He gave me a copy of a press release he had written, setting forth his views. The American newspaper would not publish it, he told me. This saddened him profoundly--the fact that he was refused a hearing before the American people. His health had been poor for some time and not long after my visit to him, in sorrow and disillusion he died.

"Of the tragic story of death and hatred in the Holy Land and of my small efforts to help mitigate the horrors. I will speak further in a later chapter in which I tell of the years after my retirement from the Deanship of Barnard, when I devoted myself mainly to the Middle East..."

(end of part 6) 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Columbia University's Barnard College Dean Gildersleeve: Supported Palestinian Rights In 20th Century--Part 5

In her 1954 autobiography, Many A Good Crusade: Memoirs of Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, the Dean of Barnard College of Columbia University between 1911 and 1947, Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, wrote the following: 

"...I wrote the following letter to the New York Times, which appeared in its issue of October 9, 1945:

"`To The Editor of The New York Times:

"`The situation in the Near East is apparently approaching a crisis; very soon violence and bloodshed may result. For this I fear our country is partly responsible.

"`I believe sincerely in the peaceful settlement of disputes, a policy to which the United States is now committed, and I am deeply interested in the Near East through connections with American colleges and universities in that area. I am therefore greatly distressed by the policies now being urged on our Government, policies which threaten violence and upheaval in that critical region of the world.

"`Sooner or later Arabs and Jews must sit down together and reach an agreement regarding life in Palestine. Why should they not now gather about a conference table to arrive at some adjustment and avoid violence?

"`Surely it will be no kindness to the Jews to secure by force their admittance in very large numbers to a section of the world where they will have as neighbors many millions of enemies.

"`Are not some Americans urging the plan of forcing Britain to force the Arabs to admit the homeless Jews in order to escape our own responsibility toward these unfortunate persons? The conscience of the world should recognize the obligation of us all to help the homeless Jews whose persecution by Hitler we have so bitterly denounced. Each of the United Nations should accept its proportionate share of those Jews who seek new homes. The Arab nations have already offered to accept their share.

"`What will be the number the United States should admit? Perhaps 200,000? Then let Congress admit these over and above the usual immigration quotas. And let us stop evading our responsibility by urging that our Government force Britain to force Palestine to take in far more than its share. Thus we may avoid setting the Near East aflame.

"`Virginia C. Gildersleeve

"`New York, October 6, 1945'

"This letter brought a storm on my head. Many Zionists denounced me vehemently; some threatened violence. Most of my Jewish friends, on the other hand, were in favor of my views. So were some distinguished Christian leaders, notably my neighbor Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, Pastor of the Riverside Church, and my friend and comrade of many years Dr. Henry Sloan Coffin, President of Union Theological Seminary. So also were practically all the Americans I met who had lived in the Middle East and knew Palestine personally..."

(end of part 5)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Columbia University's Barnard College Dean Gildersleeve: Supported Palestinian Rights In 20th Century--Part 4

In her 1954 autobiography, Many A Good Crusade: Memoirs of Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, the Dean of Barnard College of Columbia University between 1911 and 1947, Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, wrote the following: 

"...Surprisingly few Americans knew anything about the background of this tragic situation. The spotlight of publicity had been focused so brightly by the Zionists on their plan for Palestine that to many of our citizens the rest of the Middle East was shrouded in darkness. Of the few who had any real knowledge of the circumstances, almost no one was willing to speak out publicly against a project of the Zionists. The politicians feared the Jewish vote; others feared the charge of anti-Semitism; and nearly all had a kind of `guilt complex' in their emotions towards the Jews because of the terrible tragedies inflicted upon them by Hitler. It seemed to me, however, that someone ought to speak out against the cowardly and immoral course to which our nation was being urged. My knowledge of the Middle East made me sure that only war and hatred could come from this policy..."

(end of part 4)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Columbia University's Barnard College Dean Gildersleeve: Supported Palestinian Rights in 20th Century--Part 3

In her 1954 autobiography, Many A Good Crusade: Memoirs of Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, the Dean of Barnard College of Columbia University between 1911 and 1947, Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, wrote the following: 

"As the clouds of that terrible struggle [in World War II against Nazi Germany and Japanese militarism] began to lift a little and we could again put our minds on the Palestine problem, among so many others, we were aware that disorder and death were rife in the Holy Land. The Zionists with ruthless efficiency were pushing to get more and more Jewish immigrants into Palestine. The Arabs were violently resisting. The British, in despair of arriving at any satisfactory adjustment, or even keeping order in the unhappy country, were preparing to give up the Mandate. In the United States powerful and influential Zionists began to put heavy pressure upon our government to force the British, contrary to the desires of the majority of the population, to admit more and more Jews to the Holy Land.

"The Zionists were supported in this by a great many American Christians, some few of whom, I am sorry to say, advocated the project because it would relieve us of doing anything ourselves to help the exiles. These unworthy Christians did not want to admit any more Jewish refugees into America. `Let's push them off on Palestine by all means,' they thought. They apparently saw no objection to our bullying our British allies, now in such an embarrassing position with relation to us, and forcing them to bully the Arabs into admitting this huge influx of alien foreigners. This seemed to me a most contemptible attitude for my country to tak, and I was bitterly ashamed of it..."

(end of part 3)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Columbia University's Barnard College Dean Gildersleeve: Supported Palestinian Rights in 20th Century--Part 2

In her 1954 autobiography, Many A Good Crusade: Memoirs of Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, the Dean of Barnard College of Columbia University between 1911 and 1947, Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, wrote the following:

"..The Zionist movement...pushed forward with intense religious enthusiasm. Some Zionists said they did not want a political state in Palestine. Their concept of the `national home' was more humanitarian than political, but the ideal in the minds of the chief leaders seems to have been defined by Dr. Chaim Weizmann, later first President of the State of Israel, when as early as February, 1919, speaking before the Peace Conference, he explained the Jewish national home as the creation of an administration `with the hope that by Jewish immigration Palestine would ultimately become as Jewish as England is English.' At this time, 1919, the number of Jews in Palestine was some 65,000, constituting about a tenth of the population. The remaining nine-tenths, as they learned of this policy, naturally looked on it with apprehension. They consisted of some 515,000 Arab Moslems and 62,500 Christians, of whom many were Arabs.

"By 1936 the number of Jews in Palestine had increased to nearly 400,000, amounting to somewhat more than a quarter of the total population. The Palestinian Arabs inevitably increased their protests and efforts to stem this tide which they feared was going to overwhelm them,--as it soon did.

"The situation seemed to me to be drifting towards a disastrous explosion. Could not the free nations of the world somehow meet their humanitarian duty to the Jews without depriving the Palestinian Arabs of their native land, thereby setting the Middle East aflame and antagonizing the rest of the Moslem world? From my interest in the Middle East, my vision of it as a great whole, and from my concern for the Jews, whom I had come to know so well in my own city of New York, I felt this great problem keenly; all the more because the Zionists project was being financed by hundreds of millions of American dollars. Thus stood the situation and my own feeling when we were plunged into the chaos of World War II..."

(end of part 2)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Columbia University's Barnard College Dean Gildersleeve: Supported Palestinian Rights In 20th Century--Part 1

In her 1954 autobiography, Many A Good Crusade: Memoirs of Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, the Dean of Barnard College of Columbia University between 1911 and 1947, Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, wrote the following:

"...In October 1895...I entered Barnard College...On February 1, 1911, I took Office as Dean...As I look back over my 36 and a half years as Dean, it seems to me that the most thoroughly pleasant part of the job was my association with the Barnard undergraduates...

"....The Jews were of course an important element in the make-up of our student body. Once in a printed statement early in my Deanship I alluded to them as a nationality or race, mentioning them along with the English, the French, the Russians, and so on. Mrs. Annie Nathan Meyer, our very zealous Trustee and herself a Jew, insisted that I recall this document and have it corrected, since the Jews were not a race or nationality but a religion. This I did...Several of the outstanding personalities among the original group of Trustees who had started the College I came to know intimately over many years. One was Mrs. Annie Nathan Meyer...Mrs. Meyer and her husband, Dr. Alfred Meyer, signed the lease for the house the College was to occupy, and...the infant Barnard started courageously on its way...

"In the difficult and complex world of the Middle East there was now developing in Palestine, land of the Holy Places of three great religions, a movement which was to plunge much of the region into war, sow long-lasting hatred, and make the Arabs consider America not the best liked and trusted of the nations of the West, as she had been, but the most disliked and distrusted as she is today.

"The movement was International Zionism, the plan to convert Palestine into a `homeland'' for the Jews. The Zionists wished to bring back the Jews to the country which, they believed, their God had given them and which their forefathers had held for a time two thousand years ago.

"The small land of Palestine, about the size of our state of Vermont, had been inhabited for over a thousand years by Arabs, who naturally looked forward, when the British mandate should expire, to becoming an independent state, as had Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, their brother Arab nations...The Zionist movement, however, had been growing in strength, and was immensely stimulated by Hitler's terrible persecutions of the Jews in Germany and the need of finding asylum for some hundreds of thousands of survivors...

" all decent Americans, when Hitler perpetrated his persecutions and massacres, I felt a wave of horror sweep over me.

"I can vividly remember that deep emotion. These appalling outrages seemed so terrible as to be unbelievable...

"Partly to meet the need of providing some sanctuary for thousands of Jewish refugees, and building on the sympathy aroused in other countries by these persecutions, the Zionist movement now rose quickly to much greater strength. It had first received important international recognition when in 1917 the British Government approved the famous Balfour Declaration, which stated, `His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.' Subsequently the League of Nations assigned Great Britain the Mandate for Palestine to carry out their Declaration,--this very ambiguous statement of which only the first half is generally quoted.

"What right had Great Britain, asked the Arabs as the years went on, or indeed the League of Nations, to give away any part of Paelstine without the consent of the inhabitants who had lived there and tilled the soil for over a thousand years? What right had they to say that foreigners might come to the ancient land and there establish a `national home,' whatever that may mean? Surely this was contrary to all the principles of democracy and self-determination..."
(end of part 1) 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Columbia's Baker Athletic Complex Land: Donated By Exploiter of Black Convict Labor?

As Cara Maines reported in a Feb. 7, 2017 Columbia Daily Spectator article, research done by  Columbia University Professor of History Eric Foner and his students, as part of the Columbia University and Slavery Project, “found that most of the early presidents and trustees owned slaves, some donors profited from slave trade in the West Indies, and most students came from slave-owning families;” and “at least one student, the stepson of George Washington, brought a slave to what was then King's College.”

But what perhaps should also be mentioned is that the 26 acres of Upper Manhattan land upon which Columbia University’s Baker Athletics Complex stands was purchased in 1921 by a U.S. Steel Corporation director and major stockholder named George F. Baker--whose firm’s Tennessee Coal and Iron [TCI] subsidiary apparently profited in Alabama from the exploitation of forced African-American convict labor in the early 20th century. As labor and human rights lawyer Daniel Kovalik noted in a July 4, 2008 Pittsburgh Post- Gazette article:
“What came to many of us as a revelation this year, presented by the Wall Street Journal's Douglas A. Blackmon in his book, Slavery by Another Name, is that the enslavement of tens of thousands of black Americans in the South did not end in 1865…As Mr. Blackmon explains..., southern political and industrial leaders…began to arrest blacks en masse on baseless charges, including the overly broad `"crime’ of vagrancy (i.e., standing around unoccupied), `offensive conduct,’ talking to white women or any other trumped-up offense…

“The targeted black citizen was then hauled before a judge or justice of the peace, pressured by implied threats of violence into confessing to a crime, and fined for both the crime and the "costs" incurred by the arresting officer, the judge and witnesses. The accused was then offered to an industrialist or farmer who offered to pay the exorbitant fines and costs in return for the accused signing a contract of indentured servitude…One of the largest users of forced labor was Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel, which purchased a coal mine -- indeed, a slave mine -- from the Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Co. at the beginning of the 20th century. U.S. Steel signed a lease with the state of Alabama to acquire hundreds of prisoners, almost all black and almost all arrested on absurd charges, who it put to work in its Alabama mine No. 12. The many laborers who died during their periods of servitude either were buried in unmarked graves or burned inside the mines.

“As Mr. Blackmon notes in his book, U.S. Steel, unlike some companies that had used prison/slave labor during the late 19th and early 20th century, has never…paid compensation to the families of victims….”

According to an Apr. 19, 2012 article by Steve Fraser and Joshua Freeman, “convicts were leased to…Tennessee Coal and Iron (TC&I), a major producer across the South, especially in the booming region around Birmingham, Alabama, “more than a quarter of the coal coming out of Birmingham’s pits was then mined by prisoners” and “by the turn of the century, TC&I had been folded into J.P. Morgan’s United States Steel complex, which also relied heavily on prison laborers.”
Owning $5,965,000 (equivalent to around $83,245,000 in 2017 dollars) of U.S. Steel stock in the early 1920’s, George F. Baker was the largest individual owner of stock in TC&I’s parent company, according to a May 4, 1924 Time magazine article. And, coincidentally, as Columbia University’s website notes, “the tract of land on which the Baker Athletics Complex stands was purchased for the University on December 30, 1921 by financier George F. Baker” as a $700,000 (equivalent to around $8,711,000 in 2017 dollars gift); and “the 26-acre area was dedicated in April, 1922 and hosted spring football practice that same year.”

A long-time president of the First National Bank of New York (which eventually merged with Citicorp’s Citibank in 1955), Baker was “closely associated with” the late 19th-century and early 20th-century U.S. robber-baron, monopolist and Wall Street banker J.P. Morgan “in his manifold enterprises,” according to Richard Boyer and Herbert Morais’s 1955 book, Labor’s Untold Story. The same book also noted that “Morgan and associates organized super-trusts in steel (U.S. Steel), shipping (International Mercantile Marine), and agricultural machinery (International Harvester);” and it also “had its hands in other fields—the railroads (where…some 30,000 miles of railway were controlled), anthracite coal (where from two-thirds to three-quarters of the entire shipment was in Morgan hands).” In addition, other Morgan monopolies included electrical machinery (General Electric), communications (AT &T, Western Union), traction companies (IRT in New York, Hudson & Manhattan), and insurance (Equitable Life).” 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Columbia University Apartheid Divest's February 27, 2017 Statement

In a February 27, 2017 column that that was originally posted on the Columbia Daily Spectator news site, the Columbia and Barnard student group that is campaigning for an end to the Columbia University administration's policy of owning stock in U.S.-based transnational corporations that profit from their investments in an Israeli economy whose government continues to violate Palestinian human rights and democratic national self-determination rights--Columbia University Apartheid Divest--stated the following:

“When students launched the Barnard Columbia Solidarity Network (BCSN) last year, they sought to put into practice principles of solidarity between movements and work against forms of oppression using an intersectional framework. The guiding principle of this coalition was that all forms of oppression operate in interrelated ways and thus must be fought together.

“Although BCSN sought to foster solidarity among campus activists, its inclusion of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) incurred virulent criticism as some argued that the pro-Palestinian groups created a hostile environment for students who support Israel. We, members of Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD), were left asking: why should recognition of intersectionality exclude Palestinians? How could one, in good conscience, ignore racism, sexual violence, environmental racism, and colonialism in the context of Israel/Palestine?

“When students are made aware of this double standard, they will often say that they simply don’t know enough to take a stance. This widespread belief—that entitlement to an opinion requires exhaustive knowledge of the Israeli occupation of Palestine—keeps many students out of the conversations we in CUAD try to encourage on campus. Moreover, the misleading and divisive narrative of “us vs. them” that attends dominant discourses surrounding Israel/Palestine activism intimidates students and activists with the implied accusation that any engagement at all amounts to full endorsement of one side or the other.

“Either afraid of negotiating or believing themselves unable to negotiate these polarizing stances, students retreat to a position of presumed “neutrality,” a non-stance amounting to little more than tacit support for the status quo: occupation, dispossession, and apartheid. “Neutral” silence has become a powerful tool wielded by Zionists in their effort to bolster the hegemony of Israeli apartheid and dissuade dissenting voices. From hard-right Zionist groups such as AIPAC to student Hillel chapters, the discourse about Israel/Palestine at Columbia is in need of dramatic recalibration.

“We put on events for Israeli Apartheid Week to create a space for learning and growing, not hostility. Activism is a process, one that is shared between all groups organizing against oppression and one that asks for the participation—at whatever capacity—of those who might not call themselves “activists.” Without engaged people seeking new information, dialogue on campus becomes a repetitive cycle of attack between the “two sides.”

“As part of our work this Israeli Apartheid Week, CUAD will present a resolution to CCSC calling for divestment from companies that participate in Israel’s occupation of Palestine and the government’s continued human rights abuses. If 10 percent of the CC student body signs our petition supporting the resolution, CCSC will be obligated to put the resolution to a vote for the entire Columbia College student body.

“The resolution seeks to end our University’s support for corporations that engage in and profit from human rights violations in Israel/Palestine. Education and dialogue during Israeli Apartheid week are essential to the resolution vote. This is our way of honoring the Palestinian call to BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions). BDS, with its three simple demands, is an effective tactic for pressuring the Israeli government into abiding by international law. It is a tangible way to empower everyone, from consumer to politician, to end apartheid.

“There is a new administration in Washington, and a staunch supporter of illegal settlement building has been nominated to be the new US Ambassador to Israel. Now more than ever it is incumbent upon us to fight for institutional support in the struggle to end the well-documented violations of human rights in Palestine. To do so means both to learn and to act simultaneously. We hope Israeli Apartheid Week will serve this purpose.

“This week, featuring events every night, and our mock Apartheid wall on Low Plaza every day, is an essential moment in our movement and an excellent opportunity for students to learn about Israel/Palestine

“The United States has witnessed the consolidation of power by some of the country’s most overtly corporate, racist, and authoritarian forces in the past few months. The supposedly neutral stance on Israel/Palestine may have felt comfortable for people in the past, but it now becomes impossible to uphold if we are at all opposed to what is happening in the United States—the Muslim ban, the Dakota Access Pipeline, police brutality and the reinstatement of Jim Crow-era voting laws in some states.

“It has been heartening to see so many in the United States come together—in the streets, at town hall meetings, on campuses—to reaffim our basic principles of equal protection under the law. Right here in Morningside Heights, students, faculty, staff, and administrators have recommitted to the principles of sanctuary. In this fraught moment, it is especially important that we all reaffirm our insistence that basic human rights are not limited by zip code, religion, or national identity, but that they are fundamental rights for all individuals. This is what we, as CUAD members, fight for this week and every week.

“Columbia University Apartheid Divest is a coalition between Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).”