For our summer fundraising drive, “One Story At A Time,” Mondoweiss staffers are sharing stories we’ve published that are special to them. Today’s message is from Michael Arria, U.S. Correspondent at Mondoweiss. Read on to learn about what drives Michael — and please give now. A loyal donor has pledged $20,000 if we can raise $60,000 by August 1. We have just two days left to meet our challenge!
These gifts are all we need to meet the challenge. You decide where you fit in this picture.
Last February, right around the time that I applied to become a correspondent for Mondoweiss, the site published a remarkable essay by activist and scholar Steven Salaita. I urge you to read it now, because the piece embodies so much of the reason I am proud and excited to be part of the Mondoweiss team — and the reason I ask you to support our work today.
You may remember Steven. A few years ago, his tenured-faculty appointment at the University of Illinois was withdrawn over a series of tweets he made criticizing Israel during the assault on Gaza in summer 2014. After that he ended up at the American University of Beirut, but he was soon ousted from there as well due to outside pressure.
This year, he gave up on finding another academic appointment and took a position as a school bus driver. Steven writes:
Becoming a school bus driver wasn’t random…My father taught physics at an HBCU in southern West Virginia and my earliest memories involve following him to work, chalk dust and textbooks intoxicating my emergent senses.
“Prof,” he called me with booming approval, his breath warm with pistachio and nicotine. I earned the moniker by disappearing into my room for hours and validated it by becoming my father’s unqualified research assistant. At some point during my childhood, the nickname became a decree. I went to college at seventeen knowing I would never leave.
21 years later I got fired. Now I can’t return.
I’m not just recommending this essay because I think it’s a brilliant and moving piece of work. I also believe it encapsulates something important about Mondoweiss’s mission. Israel/Palestine is not just an issue that impacts the United States because we give one of those countries billions of dollars in military aid every year. Salaita’s story shows that the “conflict” has real effects on real people.
I’m writing to you from my home in Texas, where I live with my wife and one-year-old daughter. As you may well know, last year a children’s speech pathologist was fired from her job here in Texas because she refused to sign a loyalty oath to the state of Israel. I joined Mondoweiss as a U.S. correspondent because I wanted to cover these kinds of stories. Over 100 measures targeting boycotts and other advocacy for Palestinian rights have been introduced in state and local legislatures and Congress over the last five years, and the details of these actions are often overlooked by the mainstream media. But Mondoweiss tells the stories others won’t cover. And we need your help to keep telling them.
Having a young child has only deepened my belief that we all have an obligation to shine a powerful light on injustice where we see it. I believe that Mondoweiss does this every day, and contributes to what I dream of for my little girl: living in a world free from injustice.
Steven Salaita and countless others like him have been silenced for telling the truth. But together, our voices are too loud to drown out. With your support, we’ll keep on fighting to share the truth about US policy on Israel/Palestine with the world.
As a Mondoweiss reader, you know that even in the bleakest times there are reasons for hope and thousands of people fighting against injustice every day. But we need your help to keep telling these stories. Independent media is under siege. Please make a gift to Mondoweiss today and help us continue to do this work going forward.
Thanks to our supporters, Mondoweiss is able to tell the world about how U.S. policy in Israel/Palestine affects not only those living over there, but also the civil liberties of everyone here. Your gifts can enable us to tell everyone what those effects actually look like — one story at a time. Thanks so much.