Monday, August 21, 2006

 

VFP Palestine Resolution Defeated--Take 2

Ken Mayers, a member of the VFP Board of Directors, wrote to complain about my "attack" concerning the defeat of the "Resolution on Justice and Peace in Palestine." He asked me to share some of his remarks with resolution supporters. Specifically, he wrote:
Lincoln Grahlfs read each of the resolutions, including yours, while the resolution was projected on the large screen. Someone whose name escapes me spoke on behalf of your resolution; someone spoke against it. David Cline explained that the resolution did not gain board approval for three reasons: 1) two of the "resolveds" were restatements of existing resolution; 2) the paragraph expressing preference for a one-state solution clearly would require several resolutions of VFP calling for a return to pre-1967 borders; and 3) the finals sections required resources beyond those available to VFP without explaining how such resources were to be acquired. The resolution was then voted on and rejected by the convention.
Ken also said:
Furthermore, the reason the discussion was curtailed was because no other speaker chose to speak on behalf of the resolution. And Dave Cline cut off the personal criticism of you as soon as it started. The speaker in favor of the resolution was given considerably more time to speak than any other speaker for resolutions in the convention.
Here's part of my response to Ken:
My post on how the resolution fared at convention was mostly written before I got your report and it was based upon reports by two other VFP members who attended. I alone am responsible for what I wrote but they have both expressed satisfaction with the accuracy of my post. The only information I used from your report was your confirmation that Lincoln was the person who read the resolution. Your report also corroborated some of things the others told me. ...

My "attack," as you call it is actually from a blog entry on vfpdissident.blogspot.com and you're welcome to submit a comment. In the next day or two I will post another entry on the blog responding to two of the explanations attributed to Dave Cline by you.
As I mentioned above, I got reports from two other VFP members. One asked that his name not be disclosed the other gave my full permission to use his words with attribution but I have so far seen no reason to do that and he hasn't objected. The other wrote me in response to Ken's comments, here is what he said:
Again:
Lincoln Grahlfs was projecting each proposed resolution on the large screen. Being an "important and busy" guy, he scrolled directly down to the final "resolved" paragraph, leaving all the "wherases", etc. to our imaginations. When someone protested, he reluctantly went back up to the top and very quickly scrolled through it all while ad-libbing negatively. ... Tom Krebsbach spoke for the resolution, and then the guy from your chapter spoke against you, us, and whatever--but before he spoke, Grahlfs asked him "Are you speaking in support of this resolution, too? I am not going to entertain any more discussion in support of this resolution". That quotation is pretty darned close to verbatim. I think maybe the vote was a total of 9 for it. The audience had about 10 minutes and one reading in which to evaluate it. It wasn't a fulfilling experience.
I can't help but note that Ken still hasn't expressed the least bit of concern about the blatant violations of the announced resolution policy or any determination to get an answer to the ten Veterans for Peace who sponsored the resolution. The rest of the Board of Directors is, so far, similarly disinterested.

As for the "reasons" attributed by Ken to VFP President Dave Cline: First, I challenge any member of the Board to identify the "two ... 'resolveds' " that "were restatements of existing resolution[s]." Only the third "resolved" can be fairly said to repeat an existing resolution and I would draw a distinction on even that one.

Ken also writes, "the paragraph expressing preference for a one-state solution clearly would [rescind?] several resolutions of VFP calling for a return to pre-1967 borders." In fact, expressing a "preference" for a one-state solution simply does not require rescinding any calls for "a return to pre-1967 borders." The rejected resolution explicitly did not "prejudge what a just peace would look like" and a return to the pre-1967 borders would surely be a step toward any more just and comprehensive solution--one-state solution or otherwise.

The third reason about "resources" is pure rubbish; where's the cost analysis? The resolution did not set a specific dollar amount, it only required the Board "to allocate adequate financial and staff resources to ensure meaningful implementation of this resolution." In other words, it was left at the Board's discretion.

In any event, all of Cline's objections could have been addressed if only they had been communicated to the resolution's sponsors. I can't say if it was cowardice, ignorance, racism, some combination, or something else that motivated the Resolutions Committee and the Board to defeat the resolution but I can say I strongly question their collective integrity. They actively or tacitly manipulated the process unfairly and stacked the deck against the resolution on specious grounds. That's dishonest and it's not what one expects from "an organization that is both democratic and open."

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Comments:
As the author of the defeated resolutions, I am very interested in how this came about. From this account, there were clearly misunderstandings and I was unfortunately unable to attend the conference to explain the resolutions and their importance.

First, the 2-state solution previously recommended by VFP has become obviated by Israel’s continuous land confiscation and bantustanizing of the West Bank in the interim, and was never a just solution in the first place since (1) it would leave intact Israel’s apartheid system of discrimination against its non-Jewish citizens, (2) the 2-state model is a ploy to negate the Palestinians’ internationally established right of return to their legally defined properties, and (3) Israel never agreed to Palestinian autonomy, control of its own borders and air space, economic viability, fair access to water, or self-defense. As an officer of the 1996 Netanyahu administration stated, “They can have whatever we decide to leave them; they can call it a state, or they can call it fried chicken.” Is VFP incapable of modifying previous resolutions in the light of changing conditions and updated information? This rationale seems thin indeed.

Second, in the event of a 2-state agreement, although less preferable but more likely, withdrawal to the 1967 borders would remain highly relevant. Israel has never agreed to anything close to this, wanting at best to exchange choice West Bank property it has seized for much less valuable land. The land swap idea is nothing but that - an empty idea that sounds fair on paper but is far less fair as actually proposed. Interested parties might read Edward Said’s “Peace and its Discontents” and international attorney Francis Boyle’s book on Israel’s faux negotiating methods - an insider perspective from a legal adviser to the Palestinians.

And what implementation resources would be needed beyond communication to the press and perhaps mailings to congressional offices? I’d come to DC and do it in person myself if necessary.

It sounds as if the resolutions were not presented competently and/or impartially, and I’d like to hear more about this.

Jack Dresser, Ph.D.
Eugene, OR
Co-director, Al-Nakba Awareness Project
 
Jack is thinking of a different, later resolution as he is not the author of the resolution discussed in this post.
 
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