Saturday, August 26, 2006

 

No More The Moon Shines On Lorena

Carter Family Photo from the PBS Program The Carter Family: Will the Circle Be UnbrokenDuring the Great Depression, the Carter Family—A. P., Sara, and Maybelle--became national stars of American music. These Appalachian mountain folk helped transform music and the music business. They recorded their first song in 1927 in Bristol, Tennessee and by 1938 their music was being "blasted all over the world" from Mexico on "XERA, the most powerful of the Border Radio stations." Interestingly, their publicists presented them as the picture of marital bliss but Sara separated from her husband, A. P., in 1933 and divorced him in 1936.

During the Great Depression, in 1930, the Carters recorded "No More The Moon Shines On Lorena"—the sad story of the courtship and forced parting of two slaves. According to the liner notes from the 1995 Rounder Records CD The Carter Family: Worried Man Blues, the song was copyrighted in 1889 by Louis Stabb.
No More The Moon Shines On Lorena

Way down upon the old plantation
Old Massey used to own me as a slave
He had a yeller gal he called Lorena
And we courted where the wild bananas waved

For long years there we courted
And we were as happy as one
And my hard work for did Massey
And the happiness of life had just begun
No more the moon shines on Lorena
As we'd sit and watch the coons among the corn
And the possums laying on the wild bananas
And the old owl a hootin like a horn
One day I called to see my dear Lorena
I thought she would meet me at the gate
But they took her away to old Virginy
And left me to mourn for her fate

For years I have longed to see her
And the thoughts of her was ever in my head
One day Massey read me a letter
Telling me that Lorena she was dead
Repeat chorus
But I know that her soul has gone to heaven
And there she is ever free from pain
And to her a brighter crown is given
And no more she will wear the darkie's chain
Repeat chorus
Lyrics provided courtesy of Bluegrass Lyrics.Com!


Sung in the first-person, "No More The Moon Shines On Lorena" may seem an unlikely choice for a trio of White musicians from Poor Valley, Virginia but it is likely that the Carters knew ex-slaves and were sympathetic to the oppression Black people had endured under slavery and Jim Crow. The oldest, A. P. was born in 1891, just 26 years after the end of the Civil War. The Carters also teamed up with the Black Blues guitarist Lesley Riddle in 1928. Riddle and A. P. travelled together collecting songs and Riddle taught songs and guitar techniques to Maybelle.

The Carters were born and raised in a part of the South that, in the years before the Civil War, was riddled with abolitionists and had largely opposed secession. My own mother's maternal grandparents came from Hawkins County, Tennessee, just one small mountain ridge (Pine Ridge) to the south of, and in the same Holston River watershed, as the Carter Family's home--about 40 miles apart. A branch of the Underground Railroad ran through the area.

According to "Anti-slavery and Quakers in East Tennessee:"
East Tennessee was largely anti-slavery in its sentiments and politics. Because the economy was not based on the type of agriculture that required slave labor and because of abolitionism, prompted by religious and moral convictions, opposition to slavery emerged very early. In 1797, one year after Tennessee became a state, the Friends Society, more commonly known as the Quakers, began to organize opposition to slavery. This was the work of Elihu and Elijah Embree, sons of a Quaker minister who came to East Tennessee from Pennsylvania in 1790. Elihu, an iron manufacturer, owned slaves as a young man but by the time he was thirty, was an ardent abolitionist. By 1815, he was a leader in the abolitionist society organized in Greene County.

Embree first published The Emancipator in April of 1820 in Jonesborough (Washington County). The monthly periodical was the first publication in the United States devoted exclusively to the antislavery cause. He called slaveholders "monsters in human flesh" and argued vehemently against additional slave-holding states being allowed in the Union. Embree's condemnation of slavery was as harsh as any including the better-known abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison, who began publishing his newspaper, The Liberator, in the 1830s. By the time The Liberator was first published, there were 25 anti-slavery societies in Tennessee with a membership of about 1000.
The 1939 Federal Writers' Project's Tennessee: A Guide to the State notes:
... There had, however, always been a fairly strong anti-slavery element in Tennessee, and when the first constitution was adopted in 1796 nearly 2,000 Tennesseans petitioned the convention to abolish slavery after 1854.

... As early as 1797 the Knoxville Gazette was urging that an abolition society be organized. The Manumission Society of Tennessee was formed in 1815 at Lost Creek, Jefferson County, by the Reverend Charles Osborn, who later established, in Ohio, the Philanthropist - a journal partly devoted to anti-slavery propaganda. An early member of the Manumission Society was Elihu Embree. Though a [former] slaveholder, Embree founded the Manumission Intelligencer, a weekly which was succeeded by his monthly Emancipator. These were the first periodicals in the United States exclusively devoted to abolition. After Embree's death in 1820, Benjamin Lundy took up the work and began publishing the Genius of Universal Emancipation in Ohio. In 1822 Lundy transferred his paper to Greeneville, Tennessee, and continued his activities there until 1824, when he moved to Baltimore to collaborate with William Lloyd Garrison. Out of these efforts grew many anti-slavery societies. Most of the early pioneer preachers were strong abolitionists, and "as late as 1827, East Tennessee alone contained nearly one-fifth of all anti-slavery societies in the United States and nearly one-sixth of the total membership." ...
And according to the Tennessee Newspaper Project:
By far the best known and most infamous anti-slavery editor and printer was William Gannaway Brownlow, whose gubernatorial likeness, known as the spitting portrait because of the post-war legislators' habit of anointing it with tobacco juice as they descended the stairs in the Capitol, was removed to the safer confines of the Tennessee State Museum in 1987. Brownlow was a man of strong opinions, and one never had to wonder which side of an issue he favored. He began the Tennessee Whig in Elizabethton in 1839, then moved it to Jonesboro in 1840 as simply the Whig. In 1851, he changed the name to Brownlow's Whig and moved the paper to Knoxville, where it was published until 1861, when the Civil War made it both inconvenient and imprudent to remain in Tennessee any longer. At this time Brownlow moved his family north, then returned in 1863 to revive the Whig. From 1865 until 1869, he took a hiatus from publishing to become the state's Reconstruction governor.
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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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Thursday, August 17, 2006

 

Israel’s historic defeat

Below are the first three paragraphs and the last paragraph from a recent post by Neal AbuNab. I don't share his optimism about a "turning point" but I do find his essay and perspective to be interesting and worthy of consideration.
This is not Israel's first defeat and it won't be its last one. But it will go down in the books of history as a turning point in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Hizbullah defeated Israel the first time on May 25, 2000. The current Lebanese government was so ashamed of that victory that it banned all celebrations this year. We still celebrated in Dearborn and the Lebanese Consul in Michigan joined us at the Bint Jebail club.

The significance of today’s victory is that the war was waged on all fronts and Hizbullah and Lebanon came out ahead. On the military front where Israel has always behaved like a wild beast that can not be tamed or deterred, it was dealt a severe blow. In the air campaign it conducted more than 10,000 sorties that delivered more bombs than the combined nations of NATO in their war against Yugoslavia in 1999. Every bomb cost Israel about $40,000 while Hizbullah delivered approximately 4,000 Katyusha rockets that cost about $300 each.

It was an asymmetrical war conducted on the cheap but delivered the maximum effect for Hizbullah. Israeli missiles were striking fear in the heart of Lebanese civilians and the Katyusha’s were striking a similar fear in the hearts of Israelis. The Israeli air force with its state-of-the-art technology and weapons was neutralized by World War II-type rockets. Its precision-targeting systems killed hundreds of civilians while the antiquated technology of Katyusha’s killed only a handful of Israeli civilians.
...

Hizbullah has released the Arab spirit and the genie is out of the bottle. The winds of liberty and freedom are blowing very hard in the Middle East and they are led by the two flags of Hizbullah and Hamas. America can choose to stand on the side of freedom or stay with the tyranny of Israel and the Kings of Arabia. The choice is simple and it will become clearer with every passing day.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

 

Peace Tax Fund Staffer Admits "bill does not decrease military spending"

Below in italics and block quote are my responses to an August 2, 2006, comment by Chris Fretz, a staff member of the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund. Not all of his comment is reproduced below. I have emphasized some of his words by underlining them.

... Below you will find each question, followed by our response.

1. Why should War Tax Resisters (WTRs)/Conscientious Objectors to Military Taxation (COMTs) or their allies support a bill that would admittedly INCREASE federal revenues?

As you said, HR 2631 would increase federal revenues. However, the bill also states "It is the sense of Congress that any increase in revenue to the Treasury resulting from creation of the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund shall be allocated in a manner consistent with the purposes of the Fund." Your question implies that War Tax Resisters (WTRs)/Conscientious Objectors to Military Taxation (COMTs) are anti-government.

No, it does not. Even WTRs/COMTs who are not anti-government should be concerned about increasing federal revenues when HR 2631 does absolutely nothing to cut military spending. There is nothing very conscientious about feeding more money to the war machine but doing so indirectly and then patting yourself on the back for it.
... Many WTRs/COMTs support this legislation because they want their beliefs to be respected, and to have a legal option to pay their taxes without their personal tax money being spent on military activities. This legislation would increase revenue that would be allocated in a manner consistent to the purpose of the Fund, which is to extend COMT rights, and it would give them a legal option that does not violate their conscience. I hope you will come to see how that goal is worthy in itself.
Money is fungible and I don't see anything "worthy" in creating a feel good shell game that increases federal revenue and splits the WTR/COMT community.
2. Is there any evidence that HR 2631, if signed into law, would actually divert a single penny away from military spending?

The Campaign has never claimed that HR 2631 would divert money from the pentagon.
Well, this is an honest admission and I thank you for it.
Money is fungible, and HR 2631 would only divert money from military spending if enough taxpayers paid into the Peace Tax Fund that the government’s general fund became smaller than the military budget. That may seem unlikely, however, many taxpayers who are not currently WTRs/COMTs might use the bill once they become aware such an option exists.
A reasonable estimate that I quoted previously is that "in order to make any reduction to the 26% of every tax dollar that is spent for military purposes, more than 74% of taxpayers would have to declare themselves conscientious objectors." HR 2631 relies upon an already onerous statute that defines a conscientious objector as a person "who, by reason of religious training and belief, is conscientiously opposed to participation in war in any form." However, the statute continues: "As used in this subsection, the term 'religious training and belief' does not include essentially political, sociological, or philosophical views, or a merely personal moral code.

If you're going to go forward in this effort then why not at least adopt a less burdensome definition of conscientious objector? I recommend that you have a look at HR 5060 (102d Cong., 2nd Session).
However, the main goal of the bill has always been to extend to WTRs/COMTs the rights COs have enjoyed since 1940 by ensuring that legal penalties are not imposed because of their beliefs that killing is wrong, and so is paying others to kill in their names.

It would be much more honest and accurate to say "to extend to some WTRs/COMTs the rights some COs have enjoyed." Non-religious and other COs have always been excluded "since 1940" and they and others would be left out in the cold by HR 2631.
3a. If HR 2631 was signed into law wouldn't some WTRs/COMTs understandably still refuse to pay because they realize that money is fungible and the bill INCREASES federal revenues?

3b. Isn't it likely that prosecutors would invoke failure to avail themselves of the provisions of HR 2631 as an aggravating circumstance when prosecuting such WTRs/COMTs?

3c. Doesn't HR 2631 potentially create two classes of WTRs/COMTs--one legal (but helping to INCREASE federal revenues), the other illegal--thereby splitting an already too small movement and furthering a divide-and-conquer strategy by the government?

It is a personal choice whether one pays their full income taxes or practices war tax resistance. It would also be a personal choice whether or not a WTR/COMT would use the Peace Tax Fund.

Why not work to give them a real choice instead of a feel good shell game choice that would likely never divert a single penny away from the Pentagon? A Peace Tax Credit Bill would do that.
Some WTRs/COMTs may still refuse to pay taxes after HR 2631 is signed into law.
Yes, the WTRs/COMTs who are really conscientious, who don't want their money used to kill. They would continue to resist and they would be left out in the cold by HR 2631.
But we simply want to give people that choice. WTRs/COMTs do actually suffer at the hands of the IRS, which recently sent 3 WTRs to prison – a very rare punishment and troubling development. Had the bill been law, it would have prevented this abuse of conscience.

Not necessarily, what evidence do you have that the three WTRs in question would have paid under the scheme envisioned by HR 2631?
To be honest, we don’t know if prosecutors will consider failing to use the provisions of 2631 as an aggravating circumstance. That will probably vary greatly from case to case depending upon the WTR/COMT’s circumstance and legal argument.

How about including a clause that addresses the issue explicitly?
I think that most WTRs/COMTs would be glad to have legislation that brings attention to their dilemma of conscience. While the bill does not decrease military spending,

Again, an honest admission for which I am grateful.
a worthy goal of many other campaigns and organizations, it does recognize that conscientious objection extends not only to physical participation in war, but to financial participation as well, and increases visibility that such beliefs exist in our country. ... The bill would also require the government to report the level of Peace Tax Fund usage, providing a measure of the number of taxpayers who are COMTs. This would add to the dialogue about military spending priorities and could build momentum toward changing current priorities.

We can't know the future, and laws can be amended as necessary. First we have to pass the bill.
Why put so much time, energy, and money into a very faulty bill to be amended later? Why not put forward a good bill that would still raise the important issues and would deprive the Pentagon of its blood money? Why not ask for what you want at the outset and compromise if you must but only when you have a real chance of getting something passed?
... 4. Have supporters of HR 2631 considered a Peace Tax Credit bill that instead of increasing federal revenues would give WTRs/COMTs a 100% tax credit for money spent on non-profits charities, non-profits, etc.? If not, why not?

The Campaign has been around for over 30 years and continues to evolve. In the peace tax movement there has not been broad consideration of a Peace Tax Credit Bill.

It doesn't seem like much evolution is going on. The bill is very faulty and in 30 years these faults have, apparently, not been corrected. Maybe it's time to punctuate the equilibrium.
However, our legislative committee carefully considers how the legislation gets written, though ultimately the final phrasing is up to our lead sponsor in Congress, which is currently Rep. John Lewis (GA-5). If you have ideas on how the tax credit idea would be implemented I’d be glad to discuss it with you. You are also welcome to make a written proposal to the Campaign’s board of directors. But the Campaign remains focused on passing the bill that we have and trying to build grassroots awareness and support among our allies.
It doesn't seem like the Campaign is really very open to change or constructive criticism.

In sum, if you want to send more money to the war machine, split the war tax resistance movement, and help set up a feel good shell game then the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund bill (HR 2631) is for you. If you want a legal way to stop feeding the war machine against your will then encourage the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund to drop its support for HR 2631 and to start drafting a Peace Tax Credit bill.
...

Peace,

Chris Fretz
National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund

See also:

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

 

Hedy Epstein Awarded Honorary Membership in Veterans for Peace

Two VFP Board of Directors members have now informed me that Hedy Epstein was awarded an honorary membership in Veterans for Peace at the recent convention in Seattle. See the nomination of her here.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

 

Dirty Green? or On the Importance of Values

I don't claim to know if Dean Zimmermann, a former Green Party Minneapolis City Council member, really accepted the bribes he was convicted last week of taking--maybe there was no quid pro quo. However, as an outsider, the case against him looks pretty damning and his defense attorney did not deny that Zimmerman took $7200 in cash from a real estate developer. The defense argument is that there was no bribe and if there was a bribe, well, then Zimmerman was entrapped.

However, during the trial Zimmerman admitted to lying to the FBI about the money. He also admitted to having $35,000 in credit card debt last year when he took the money. Although, in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio last year he said, "I live a pretty frugal life and, you know, I ride a bike and we have an old junker car and money for me personally is never a significant thing." He also portrayed the FBI investigation as "an attempt to silence him and the Green Party." In any event, it looks pretty clear that Zimmerman had strayed far from at least a couple of the Ten Key Values in deciding to accept the money and this whole matter is a stain on Greens.

After the guilty verdicts, the Green Party of Minnesota said in a press release:
The Green Party of Minnesota reaffirms its belief that Dean Zimmermann had no intention to solicit or take bribes. We base this on his record of more than half a century of service to his community and active work for justice. We recognize that he has made serious mistakes in the handling of funds, and we do not condone or excuse those mistakes. Nevertheless, we believe that he was never motivated by personal gain.
Thanks to deesings and others over at the Green Commons where I first learned about this. See also Minneapolis Confidential for trial notes and local media coverage.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

 

9/11 Commission Chairmen Admit Whitewashing the Cause of the Attacks

Below are three excerpts from an August 7, 2006, article by Ivan Eland of the right-of-center think tank, The Independent Institute:
As both the Bush administration and its client government in Israel, with their invasions of Arab states in Iraq and Lebanon, respectively, make the United States ever more hated in the Islamic world, a new book by the chairmen of the 9/11 commission admits that the commission whitewashed the root cause of the 9/11 attacks—that same interventionist U.S. foreign policy.

... Apparently, unidentified commissioners wanted to cover up the fact that U.S. support for Israel was one of the motivating factors behind al Qaeda's 9/11 attack. Although Hamilton, to his credit, argued for saying that the reasons al Qaeda committed the heinous strike were the U.S. military presence in the Middle East and American support for Israel, the panel watered down that frank conclusion to state that U.S. policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and U.S. policy on Iraq are “dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world.”

Some commissioners wanted to cover up the link between the 9/11 attack and U.S. support for Israel because this might imply that the United States should alter policy and lessen its support for Israeli actions. How right they were. The question is simple: if the vast bulk of Americans would be safer if U.S. politicians moderated their slavish support of Israel, designed to win the support of key pressure groups at home, wouldn’t it be a good idea to make this change in course? Average U.S. citizens might attenuate their support for Israel if the link between the 9/11 attacks and unquestioning U.S. favoritism for Israeli excesses were more widely known. Similarly, if American taxpayers knew that the expensive and unnecessary U.S. policy of intervening in the affairs of countries all over the world—including the U.S. military presence in the Middle East—made them less secure from terrorist attacks at home, pressure would likely build for an abrupt change to a more restrained U.S. foreign policy. ...

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VFP Palestine Resolution Defeated

I've gotten several reports from convention attendees now. As if to mock the convention theme of "Sow Justice--Reap Peace," the "Resolution on Justice and Peace in Palestine" was soundly defeated at the Veterans for Peace convention in Seattle on Saturday. The Board of Directors rejected the resolution on Wednesday or Thursday (although I was not informed of this until Friday night) necessitating a two-thirds vote of support at the convention business meeting in order for the resolution to pass.

Resolutions Committee Chair Lincoln Grahlfs presented the resolution at the business meeting. According to two eyewitness reports he was openly hostile to the resolution and repeatedly made negative comments during his reading of it. Then, an abbreviated debate on the resolution was permitted where one speaker spoke in favor of the resolution but was not permitted to finish his remarks. A member of my own VFP chapter used his time to smear me personally and was cut off by the VFP president Dave Cline after he started attacking the other VFP co-sponsors of the resolution. Apparently, I was identified as a "troublemaker." He's right about that--I'm trouble for peacethugs, liars, and racists no matter where I find them but especially when I find them posing as peace advocates.

Reportedly, one of the main objections was that the resolution reversed VFP's previous support for a "two-state solution" to the conflict. Thoughtful readers will recall that a "two-state solution" is what the United States killed hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people to preserve. Rather than let Vietnam be united under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh the Americans blocked elections and propped up a brutal puppet regime in South Vietnam--58,000 Americans died in that fiasco. The U.S. also supported the racist leaders of apartheid South Africa when they set about creating a White supremacist state and several smaller Black colonies better known as bantustans. Fortunately, people of good conscience around the world worked against apartheid and today South Africa is one country with equal rights for all of its citizens.

But racists within the ranks of the peace movement don't support that for Arabs; they support Jewish ethno-religious supremacy in the 78% of Palestine violently seized in 1948--the same year Whites imposed apartheid in South Africa. Well, millions of Palestinian refugees--most of whom live in Palestine or surrounding countries--aren't going away. Only justice will bring peace to the region and in the meantime the conflict will continue to destabilize the entire planet.

Another related complaint was that the resolution was "too controversial" because it committed VFP to supporting a one-state solution and to--God forbid--actually making anti-Zionist peace activities, such as boycotts and divestment from Israel, a real part of VFP's work. VFP leaders have done nothing to implement the boycott and divestment resolution adopted last year and that's, apparently, the way they intend to keep it. Presumably, the cowards who shun this "controversy" don't have the backbone to stand up against the false charges of 'anti-Semitism' that would have come their way if they'd had the temerity to express a "strong preference for the peaceful creation of one democratic state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea with equality for all of its citizens" as the resolution called for.

Another specious complaint was that VFP did not have sufficient means to adopt the resolution because it would have directed the Board of Directors "to allocate adequate financial and staff resources to ensure meaningful implementation of this resolution." As far as I know, no one ever explored how much that would cost but financial geniuses on the Board of Directors fortuitously knew that any cost would be too much.

Some VFP leaders, apparently, abused their positions in order to help defeat the resolution. The resolution was submitted to the Resolutions Committee Chair Lincoln Grahlfs four weeks in advance of the VFP convention but Grahlfs never even acknowledged receiving it, although VFP Executive Director Michael T. McPhearson eventually did.

The VFP "Resolutions Notice" says:
V. Resolutions received by the committee at least three weeks before
the convention will be either
  1. Accepted as written and promptly acknowledged.
  2. returned to sender with suggestions for rewriting.
  3. returned to sender with an explanation of why they are inappropriate.
Yet, there wasn't any communication whatsoever from the Grahlfs or anyone else on the Committee. This deprived the ten VFP members supporting the resolution of time and information to address concerns, come up with alternative language, and to strategize on how to build support for the resolution. Despite repeated inquiries this lapse has never been explained. So much for maintaining "an organization that is both democratic and open" (VFP Bylaws Art. II).

In closing, here are a couple of quotes from one of the convention attendees:
...To me this is a no-brainer. ... I never have had that much to do with VFP. Now, I won't ever have anything to do with them again. Like many peace and justice organizations in this country, they are basically useless.
...
I guess we should not be surprised that Congress votes overwhelmingly for resolutions totally biased towards Israel when the so-called progressive group, VFP, basically votes the same way.
I'm going to stay in VFP and fight for justice and peace and I hope others who were discouraged by the vote on the resolution will stay and fight along with me. The Zionists, peacethugs, and the cowards in the movement want us to give up in frustration--let's not give them what they want.

See also: VFP Palestine Resolution Defeated--Take 2

Last revised: 11/28/2006

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

 

Cost of Israel to US: $1.6 Trillion since 1973

This is an old story from the Christian Science Monitor but it was news to me and I figure I'm probably not the only one.
Work & Money
from the December 09, 2002 edition

Economist tallies swelling cost of Israel to US Google cache here

By David R. Francis | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Since 1973, Israel has cost the United States about $1.6 trillion. If divided by today's population, that is more than $5,700 per person.

This is an estimate by Thomas Stauffer, a consulting economist in Washington. For decades, his analyses of the Middle East scene have made him a frequent thorn in the side of the Israel lobby.

For the first time in many years, Mr. Stauffer has tallied the total cost to the US of its backing of Israel in its drawn-out, violent dispute with the Palestinians. So far, he figures, the bill adds up to more than twice the cost of the Vietnam War.

And now Israel wants more. In a meeting at the White House late last month, Israeli officials made a pitch for $4 billion in additional military aid to defray the rising costs of dealing with the intifada and suicide bombings. They also asked for more than $8 billion in loan guarantees to help the country's recession-bound economy.

Considering Israel's deep economic troubles, Stauffer doubts the Israel bonds covered by the loan guarantees will ever be repaid. The bonds are likely to be structured so they don't pay interest until they reach maturity. If Stauffer is right, the US would end up paying both principal and interest, perhaps 10 years out.

Israel's request could be part of a supplemental spending bill that's likely to be passed early next year, perhaps wrapped in with the cost of a war with Iraq.

Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid. It is already due to get $2.04 billion in military assistance and $720 million in economic aid in fiscal 2003. It has been getting $3 billion a year for years.

Adjusting the official aid to 2001 dollars in purchasing power, Israel has been given $240 billion since 1973, Stauffer reckons. In addition, the US has given Egypt $117 billion and Jordan $22 billion in foreign aid in return for signing peace treaties with Israel.

"Consequently, politically, if not administratively, those outlays are part of the total package of support for Israel," argues Stauffer in a lecture on the total costs of US Middle East policy, commissioned by the US Army War College, for a recent conference at the University of Maine.

These foreign-aid costs are well known. Many Americans would probably say it is money well spent to support a beleagured democracy of some strategic interest. But Stauffer wonders if Americans are aware of the full bill for supporting Israel since some costs, if not hidden, are little known.

One huge cost is not secret. It is the higher cost of oil and other economic damage to the US after Israel-Arab wars.

In 1973, for instance, Arab nations attacked Israel in an attempt to win back territories Israel had conquered in the 1967 war. President Nixon resupplied Israel with US arms, triggering the Arab oil embargo against the US.

That shortfall in oil deliveries kicked off a deep recession. The US lost $420 billion (in 2001 dollars) of output as a result, Stauffer calculates. And a boost in oil prices cost another $450 billion.

Afraid that Arab nations might use their oil clout again, the US set up a Strategic Petroleum Reserve. That has since cost, conservatively, $134 billion, Stauffer reckons.

Other US help includes:

• US Jewish charities and organizations have remitted grants or bought Israel bonds worth $50 billion to $60 billion. Though private in origin, the money is "a net drain" on the United States economy, says Stauffer.

• The US has already guaranteed $10 billion in commercial loans to Israel, and $600 million in "housing loans." (See editor's note below.) Stauffer expects the US Treasury to cover these.

• The US has given $2.5 billion to support Israel's Lavi fighter and Arrow missile projects.

• Israel buys discounted, serviceable "excess" US military equipment. Stauffer says these discounts amount to "several billion dollars" over recent years.

• Israel uses roughly 40 percent of its $1.8 billion per year in military aid, ostensibly earmarked for purchase of US weapons, to buy Israeli-made hardware. It also has won the right to require the Defense Department or US defense contractors to buy Israeli-made equipment or subsystems, paying 50 to 60 cents on every defense dollar the US gives to Israel.

US help, financial and technical, has enabled Israel to become a major weapons supplier. Weapons make up almost half of Israel's manufactured exports. US defense contractors often resent the buy-Israel requirements and the extra competition subsidized by US taxpayers.

• US policy and trade sanctions reduce US exports to the Middle East about $5 billion a year, costing 70,000 or so American jobs, Stauffer estimates. Not requiring Israel to use its US aid to buy American goods, as is usual in foreign aid, costs another 125,000 jobs.

• Israel has blocked some major US arms sales, such as F-15 fighter aircraft to Saudi Arabia in the mid-1980s. That cost $40 billion over 10 years, says Stauffer.

Stauffer's list will be controversial. He's been assisted in this research by a number of mostly retired military or diplomatic officials who do not go public for fear of being labeled anti-Semitic if they criticize America's policies toward Israel.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the amount of housing loans guaranteed by the US.

See also: Editor's note regarding objectivity in this column.
See also Miftah: US foreign aid to Israel

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Condi the Vampire

Here's a couple of excerpts and a photo from "Lebanon Gripped by Anti-American Sentiment" by Leila Fadel via CommonDreams.org

BEIRUT, Lebanon - In trendy central Beirut, a large banner (see photo right) looms over the now nearly empty streets of downtown: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stares intently, with piercing fangs and blood dripping from her lips.

"The massacre of children in Qana is a gift from Rice," the banner says. It's referring to a southern Lebanese town that's now synonymous with the word massacre after the deaths of at least 28 civilians, many children, in an Israeli airstrike on July 30, and another attack in 1996, when Israeli artillery killed more than 100 civilians.

...

Anti-American posters have become commonplace in tony shopping districts that only weeks ago were peopled with students from the American University of Beirut sipping lattes at the now-closed Starbucks.

The images are graphic: In one, a man lifts a dead child covered in dust with a blue pacifier hanging from his shirt, an image from the July 30 Qana bombing. The poster states: "March 21st Mother's Day, June 18th U.S. Father's Day, July 30th Bush's Children's Day."

In another, an American flag's red stripes bleed onto a dead Lebanese man and asks, "What's next?"

You can also see the photo at Yahoo! News Photo here.

Friday, August 11, 2006

 

Meanwhile in Palestine

Palestinian deaths rise amid fear of worse to come

Nidal al-Mughrabi
Friday August 11, 2006
The Guardian


Last month was the deadliest in the Gaza Strip for nearly two years, a Palestinian research group said yesterday, as Israel's six-week offensive against militants in the territory led to a surge in killings.

The Palestinian Monitoring Group said 151 people were killed in the strip in July, the highest total since October 2004, when 166 people died. The majority of those killed were civilians.

"The spiralling civilian casualties caused by Israeli actions throughout the region serve to strengthen extremists, weaken peace advocates and exacerbate the conflict," said the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, commenting on the findings.

From late June, when Israel launched its offensive, until August 8, at least 170 Palestinians were killed, of whom 138 were civilians and a quarter children, the monitoring group said. Other reports have put the death toll at 200.

When the offensive was launched, Israeli warplanes bombed and partly destroyed Gaza's only power plant and also hit several bridges. The flow of fuel, food and other essential supplies was also repeatedly interrupted. The United Nations says the densely populated territory is now facing some of the worst humanitarian conditions in years.

In a report this week the UN said more than 70% of the 1.4 million population was reliant on emergency assistance to meet food needs and the price of essential goods, such as flour and sugar, had risen by between 15% and 33% this year. Waste treatment in the northern strip has reached a "critical point", threatening to flood populated areas with sewage and spread infection.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

 

Latuff Redux

The Brazilian artist Latuff created this cartoon on the occasion of the 2001 US veto of a UN Security Council Resolution "calling for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian-controlled territory and condemning acts of terror against civilians." Unfortunately, its message is still very timely today.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

 

Anti-Israeli Dissent & Crackdown in Jordan

At bottom is an eyewitness report of an anti-Zionist demonstration in Amman, Jordan--one of America's "moderate Arab allies"--on Aug. 4th. It comes from the Arab Nationalist Yahoo Group via a friend. The demonstration was also mentioned in Deutsche Presse-Agentur and Associated Press reports.

From the DPA's "Demos sweep Muslim countries against Israeli offensive":
In Jordan security men used force to disperse about 500 demonstrators who gathered after Friday prayers, according to one of the participating activists.

'Policemen arrested 10 of the participants and beat demonstrators with sticks to prevent them from reaching the Israeli embassy,' Maysara Malas, member of the Freedoms Committee of the Jordanian trade unions told reporters.

Demonstrators chanted slogans demanding the dismissal of the Israeli ambassador in Jordan in retaliation for the continued 'Israeli aggression on Lebanon and Palestine.'
From the AP's "Arab anger rising over Lebanon war":
Ten people were arrested and four injured, including two police, when demonstrators clashed with officers in Amman, Jordan. Police had to use batons to stop a crowd of about 200, some waving Hezbollah flags, from marching from their mosque to the Israeli embassy after noon prayers.
From the eyewitness report mentioned above:
Date: Sun, 06 Aug 2006 18:06:10 +0000

A Report on what happened on Friday, 4 August 2006 by the al-Kaluti Mosque in Amman, Jordan.

By Dr. Ibrahim Alloush.
Translated by Muhammad Abu Nasr

(Note: this report is generally objective although it contains some political observations. It is basically intended as a response to the official version of what happened at the demonstration for the media, organizations and individuals concerned with keeping track of violations of human rights in Jordan. We request that this be circulated.)

After the Imam of the mosque concluded the Friday prayer service, the worshippers left al-Kaluti mosque, which is located near the Zionist embassy in the ar-Rabiyah district of Amman. Suddenly a slogan was shouted: "ar-Rabiyah needs to be liberated from Zionist filth. No embassy and no ambassador. Get out, miserable thing. No Zionist embassy on Arab land!"

After that there gathered together a number of worshippers and people in the street, numbering 200 according to the Jordanian Public Security account and 500 according to some media reports – this is not a large number, of course but the area in which the demonstration took place is a district that is well guarded by security forces and there had been no demonstration there for several years. Therefore, more than a residential area, it was closer to being a “red line” that the regime had drawn, which the Jordanian public was not to cross. In addition this was not a demonstration by a political party or trade union. It was the result of efforts made by a handful of independent activists and people of conscience who could no longer keep silent over the presence of a Zionist embassy and peace treaty and security coordination with the Zionist enemy while this enemy continues to commit the most vicious crimes against us, the Arab people in Lebanon and Palestine (Note that we are one Arab people, not "Arab peoples" as some like to say. This is an important point because terminology is a part of the battle).

Anyway, chants went up in support of the Iraqi, Lebanese, and Palestinian resistance and against sectarianism ("No Sunnah, no Shi'ah, one homeland we won't sell out!"), and of course against the Zionist-American enemy, and for the unity of the Arab resistance everywhere. The orientation of the slogans was Arab nationalist, for resistance, and radical and "not usual in demonstrations for which there is a permit" as a plain-clothed officer told one of the arrested demonstrators later.

The demonstration lasted a little over an hour. It was impossible to advance more than a few steps in the direction of the Zionist embassy because of the relatively small number of demonstrators and the heavy presence of security forces, well armed and backed up with vehicles and police cars. Later the Riot Police began to encircle the demonstrators from the east as well – the embassy was to the west of the demonstration – and contrary to what the official account by the security forces said, it was the security forces and their vehicles not the demonstrators that prevented traffic from moving through the intersection to the west. The demonstrators remained boxed in just a few meters from the al-Kaluti mosque while security forces occupied the intersection and the main streets.

After the security forces began to encircle the demonstrators some of the demonstrators began gradually to withdraw in order to forestall the final blow, that is the orgy of blind violence and mass arrests that was clearly about to happen. Then some of the demonstrators declared the demonstration to be over, since it had attained its aim of expressing the opinion, even in a demonstration without a permit, and declaring the position of opposition to the presence of a Zionist embassy in Jordan and for the Arab resistance in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine even if that be in defiance of a regulation on public meetings that tramples the right to demonstrate that is guaranteed by the Jordanian constitution.

The remaining demonstrators began to break up in groups, their vanguard departing towards the south, which was the only apparent open route not blocked by the security forces. But security forces surrounded those who were leaving – who were leaving in a calm and peaceful manner – and prevented them from departing. They then began to attack and beat them violently with batons as they were departing in the opposite direction from the Zionist embassy. Wounded at this point – the first of those who were wounded – were a number of activists in the Arab Nationalist list, including Ahmad ar-Ramhi whose left elbow was broken in addition to suffering other bruises on various parts of his body. Also wounded was Amer Jubran who was struck several times in various parts of his body, particularly his head as he tried to help the writer of these lines who, for his part, was attacked by a baton causing him to bleed from his head. Amer Jubrah joked that the blows to his head did not
cause bleeding because "his family came from al-Khalil."

Thus the general assault began on the demonstrators who were departing peacefully. There were confrontations and the security people pursued demonstrators into side streets and lanes. Dozens of participants in the demonstration and also passers by in the street were severely beaten and arrested. This was in addition to those who were beaten but escaped arrest. Women too were violently beaten and arrested. Young girls were not spared the violence either, as all those who remained in the square to the end were able to see. Unfortunately the security men confiscated and destroyed the cassette that a correspondent of Abu Dhabi TV had recorded showing some of the ferocious violence practiced by the security men.

The writer of these lines personally witnessed barbaric attacks on youngsters. A group of Riot Police with batons attacked a teenager no more than about 15 years old. Some of those youths very definitely put up resistance, but the least one might say of it was that it was legitimate, but unequal to the attack to which they were being subjected. .One security man admitted to the writer of these lines, after his arrest, that the demonstrators at the rear, as he put it, attacked the security men after those of us in front had been attacked. That claim, if true, confirms that the demonstrators were not the first to attack. What really happened, contrary to the claims of the official version, was the that attack was general and directed against everyone at one time, with only a slight difference between when the first and last were attacked. It began with us – the writer of these lines, Amer Jubran, and Ahmad ar-Ramhi specifically, and some of the other demonstrators who were attacked defended themselves against absolutely inexcusable violence against themselves and their brothers and sisters as they tried to depart calmly and peacefully.

If the reader had seen the helmeted security men with shields and batons attacking young girls not yet 12 years old who had come with their families to express solidarity with the Lebanese resistance and to reject the Zionist embassy that is polluting Jordanian soil, he would probably not be able to contain himself either. So when the official version says that there were wounded among the security men, it does not say, for example that one of those was a plain-clothes officer who was hitting the mother and sister of one of the young girls, and that the young girl then rushed at the officer and pushed him, knocking him head-first to the pavement! The official version does not say that among those who were arrested and later bailed out were seven or eight women and girls some of them under the age of 16. It does not say how many women were wounded, crushed, and bruised. That version says nothing about the school students who were attacked by Riot Police and whose pride won't let them get unjustifiably beaten. Yes, there was violence but it was of two types: first, frantic violence against the human dignity inflicted by the security men; and then a much lower level of violence in defense of human dignity some of which was inflicted by teenaged boys and girls who had not been taught by these degraded Arab times to bury their dignity and boundless love for their nation in the grave of petty personal interests.

If not for concern for those who escaped arrest we would include here their names, ages, and stories. But we must keep in mind that most of those who were arrested and released on bail will have to appear in court for proceedings against them on Sunday, 6 August 2006. This is something that we all must follow with our solidarity and encouragement if the public prosecutor does not drop the cases against them. At that time we will publish in many languages the stories of those prisoners and their names and the violations committed against them, in particular the languages of the states that tie their foreign aid to recipient countries' human rights records. Translation is an easy matter.

My personal story.

Mr. Hani ad-Dahleh, President of the Arab Organization for Human Rights in Jordan asked me to write down what happened to me personally so that it can be kept in the records of the organization for legal purposes. I am undertaking that below, aware that it is only a part of the picture and cannot be separated from the whole story of what happened to all the demonstrators in front of the al-Kaluti mosque on Friday 4 August 2006, nor from the overarching phenomenon that we must all melt into, the phenomenon of Arab resistance.

After we tried peacefully to withdraw from the area that the Riot Police had closed off in the opposite direction from the Zionist embassy, we changed direction when we were prevented from going out along that route. The orgy of club beatings suddenly began from behind as we tried to move away. At that point the elbow of Ahmad ar-Ramhi was broken and he fell on his back and suffered various blows. I fell forward to the pavement after I was cracked in the head and received various blows. Amer Jubran and other brothers were violently beaten as they tried to help us. When I got up I was punched again though I was bleeding freely. Amer Jubran was arrested after that and beaten and insulted all the way to the police car, as he told me later.

Some brothers managed to pull us outside the ring where the orgy of beating had begun for those remaining demonstrators. Two of the brothers from the Arab Nationalist list and Dr. Riyad an-Nuwayisah took me to the opposite sidewalk outside the security cordon about 30 meters from the original place of the demonstration. Ahmad left on foot with some others after taking my picture with blood on my head and face that some of you might have seen on the Arab Nationalist list. I was talking on my cell phone at the time with the correspondent of al-Jazeera satellite TV to get him immediately to come and film what was going on since he had left just a few minutes before the attack on us began.

One of the brothers who had remained with us went to summon a car to take us to the hospital, but suddenly a group of security men came to arrest Dr.. Riyad an-Nuwayisah. They grabbed him as I latched on to him, and then I felt strange hands clutching me too. Dr. Riyad and I were arrested as we stood completely peacefully. Brothers who were standing with us were clubbed and driven away. They still have the contusions and bruises from that attack, but they were not arrested. It was therefore clear that there had been an order to arrest Dr. Riyad and me, for this was an intentional act directed at us, particularly so, inasmuch as we were standing outside the cordon inside which the attacks and pursuits of the demonstrators were taking place – even though we were not far from there. The security men pushed him and then me to walk towards the security vehicles parked to the north on the road that leads to the Zionist embassy. First they put Dr. Riyad and then they put me next to Amer Jubran in the back seat of the police car in which he was. Amer tried to demand that we be taken to the hospital but to no avail. At that time the pursuits and attacks were still going on with full force, their scope extending to the side streets and lanes around the area.

They then took us to the ash-Shamisani police station where they sat Dr. Riyad, Amer and me together side-by-side on a small wooden bench in the corner near a small steel cage of about two meters by two meters. Very soon four prisoners brought in from the demonstration were put into the cage. Bruises from beatings were readily apparent on their faces. I heard one of them reply "15 years old" in answer to an officer who asked him his age. Another said that he was 16. The third was a student in the first year at university. The fourth was a schoolteacher who was a fresh graduate of university. The last was beaten inside the cage because he took a cell phone out of his pocket and tried to use it to call his family to come and bail him out.

Although the officers in ash-Shamisani Police Station in general treated us with courtesy and kindness, and although we were not subjected to abuse or further beatings beyond those received at the incident in front of al-Kaluti Mosque, and although they brought us water to drink, we were compelled to remain seated for more than an hour on that small wooden bench. We kept asking to be taken to the hospital until the officer in charge of the security station ordered that to be done. In fact Amer and I were taken by a Public Security car to the al-Bashir Hospital where our heads were X-rayed and my bleeding head was attended to. We were then brought back to the ash-Shamisani Police Station where we found that Dr. Riyad had been released on bail. Amer and I were then released without charges being filed against us and without bail and without being asked to check in with the authorities concerned as happened to the others who were arrested. Before we left the police station, a calm talk took place between us and the officers concerning what had taken place and who was responsible for it. We left the police station at about 5pm.

In conclusion I would like to thank all those who expressed solidarity with us and contacted or visited or sent messages. Their stance had its effect, not only on the personal level but on the political level as well. Solidarity is a political act in itself. There is no doubt that it lessens arbitrary measures taken against prisoners and improves the treatment they receive. Yet we cannot forget that ultimately the aim of this solidarity remains the support of the cause for which the prisoners were imprisoned, and in this case that cause is rejection of the Zionist embassy on Jordanian soil and declaring total support for the Arab resistance in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine. For human rights have no value if the nation itself is denied its rights. The individual’s rights mean nothing when the rights of countries are violated. Let everyone know that no repression nor any martial law will prevent us from resisting the Zionist infiltration into our countries. What we have done and will do along these lines doesn’t equal a grain of sand compared to what the Arab resistance is doing in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine.. There is still a great deal that needs to be done. We pledge to carry on, regardless of the price. Inconsequential is any price that we might pay in service of the homeland.

Arabic original:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/arab_nationalist/message/33422
Message 33422 on Arab Nationalist list [This is a members only list]

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New Tilley Boycott Article

Virginia Tilley was mentioned in this blog in June; she has a new article on CounterPunch: "The Case for Boycotting Israel: Boycott Now!" Here are some excerpts:
... A coordinated movement of divestment, sanctions, and boycotts against Israel must convene to contain not only Israel's aggressive acts and crimes against humanitarian law but also, as in South Africa, its founding racist logics that inspired and still drive the entire Palestinian problem.

That second goal of the boycott campaign is indeed the primary one. Calls for a boycott have long cited specific crimes ... But the boycott cannot target these practices alone. It must target their ideological source.

The true offence to the international community is the racist motivation for these practices, which violates fundamental values and norms of the post-World War II order. That racial ideology isn't subtle or obscure. Mr. Olmert himself has repeatedly thumped the public podium about the "demographic threat" facing Israel: the "threat" that too many non-Jews will - the horror - someday become citizens of Israel. It is the "demographic threat" that, in Israeli doctrine, justifies sealing off the West Bank and Gaza Strip as open-air prisons for millions of people whose only real crime is that they are not Jewish.
...
The raw logic of Israel's distorted self-image and racist doctrines is expressed beyond confusion by the now-stark reality: the moonscape rubble of once-lovely Lebanese villages; a million desperate people trying to survive Israeli aerial attacks as they carry children and wheel disabled grandparents down cratered roads; the limp bodies of children pulled from the dusty basements of crushed buildings. This is the reality of Israel's national doctrine, the direct outcome of its racist worldview. It is endangering everyone, and it must stop.
...
... don't be confused by liberal Zionist alternatives that argue against a boycott in favor of "dialogue". If we can draw any conclusion from the last half-century, it is that, without the boycott, dialogue will go nowhere. And don't be confused by liberal-Zionist arguments that Israel will allow Palestinians a state if they only do this or that. Israel is already the only sovereign power in Palestine: what fragments are left to Palestinians cannot make a state. The question now is not whether there is one state, but what kind of state it comprises. The present version is apartheid, and it must change. However difficult to achieve, and however frightening to Jewish Israelis, the only just and stable solution is full democracy.
...
Boycott the Hegemon

This is the moment to turn international pressure on the complicit US, too. It's impossible, today, to exert an effective boycott on the United States, as its products are far too ubiquitous in our lives. But it's quick and easy to launch a boycott of emblematic US products, upsetting its major corporations. It's especially easy to boycott the great global consumables, like Coca-Cola, MacDonald's, Burger King, and KFC, whose leverage has brought anti-democratic pressures on governments the world over. (Through ugly monopoly practices, Coke is a nasty player in developing countries anyway: see, for example, http://www.killercoke.org.)

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

 

Anti-Zionist Conference in London

The "Against Zionism, Jewish Perspectives" conference was held in London on July 2, 2006, and organized by the Islamic Human Rights Commission. To hear the speeches and read the papers of the speakers listed below go here.

First Panel: 'The Religious Case against Zionism'
Second Panel: 'Subjugation in the Name of Self-Determination'
Third Panel: 'Creating Cultural Polarisation'

Saturday, August 05, 2006

 

Iranian Jews Support Hizbullah

Right: "Putting their feet on a representation of an Israeli flag, painted on the street, a group of Iranians attend in an anti-Israeli gathering in front of a Synagogue in the city of Shiraz 560 miles (930 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran, Saturday, July 22, 2006. (AP Photo)".

Below are some excerpts from a July 30th article by the AP's Brian Murphy, "Iran's Jews caught again in no man's land." It reflects the usual pro-Zionist, anti-Iranian biases but still it's worth a look. My comments are interspered in bold; added emphasis appears in italics.
TEHRAN, Iran - Nothing in the office of Iran's sole Jewish lawmaker calls attention to his faith — no Star of David, no menorah or other symbol of Judaism. ...

I wonder how many American legislator's offices are devoid of religious symbolism.

Moris Motamed's political headquarters highlight the well-practiced survival skills of Iran's remaining 25,000 Jews — caught again in a political no man's land by the fighting between Israel and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon.

"[S]urvival skills"? Iranian Jews could leave for Israel at any time at Israeli government expense. Why does Murphy portray them as such a besieged group?

Any public expression of sympathy for Israel would invite a sharp crackdown from authorities and hard-line Islamic groups.

Public expressions of sympathy for Hamas and Hizbullah are likely to elicit similar repression in the U.S.

"We are Iranians. We work for what's best for Iran. The fighting, fortunately, does not affect the Jewish community in Iran," said Motamed, who holds the single parliament seat reserved for Jews. Other seats are set aside for the Christian Armenian and Assyrian minorities and followers of Iran's pre-Islamic Zoroastrian faith. ...

In January, the leader of Iran's Jewish community, Haroun Yashayaei, issued a rare challenge to Islamic authorities after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the Holocaust a "myth." He said Ahmadinejad was questioning "one of the most obvious and saddening incidents in human history."

Israel, however, presents a red line no one will cross. Iran's Jews have remain publicly silent as Iranian leaders have called for Israel's destruction, including Ahmadinejad's call last year for Israel to be "wiped off the map."

Maybe that's because they know that the West has lied about what he said. On the oft-repeated and dubious claims about Ahmadinejad's remarks concerning the Holocaust and Israel see "Does Iran's President Want Israel Wiped Off The Map - Does He Deny The Holocaust?" and "Hitchens the Hacker; And, Hitchens the Orientalist And, "We don't Want Your Stinking War!"

Last week, Jews in the southern city of Shiraz held a pro-Hezbollah rally that was covered by state-run television — a sign that the march was likely overseen by the Islamic regime to reinforce the idea of national solidarity. ...

It just couldn't be that they are anti-Zionist Jews, could it Murph?

"For Iranians, there is a distinction in their mind between Zionism and Judaism," said Motamed. "This is a very important distinction for us."

Iranian Jews face no restrictions on their religious practices, but they must follow Islamic codes such as head scarves for women in public. The same rules apply to the larger Christian and Zoroastrian communities.

But the Jewish population in Iran continues to shrink from emigration to Israel, the United States and elsewhere. Before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, nearly 100,000 Jews lived in Iran, Motamed said.

Anti-Semitic acts are rare, but Jews often are the target of degrading caricatures in the Iranian press. Tensions rose considerably in 2000 when 10 Iranian Jews were convicted of spying for Israel. An appeals court later reduced their sentences under international pressure and eventually freed them. ...

My limited experience is that the "degrading caricatures" from the Middle East are typically not anti-Jewish but anti-Zionist and they use symbols which Zionists have consciously appropriated from Jewish culture, such as the Star of David. According to the Jewish Virtual Library: "The Magen David gained popularity as a symbol of Judaism when it was adopted as the emblem of the Zionist movement in 1897, but the symbol continued to be controversial for many years afterward. When the modern state of Israel was founded, there was much debate over whether this symbol should be used on the flag." Caricatures rely heavily on symbolism and its suits Zionists and their ilk to falsely conflate criticism of Israel with animosity towards Jews.
See also:
Poll on Lebanese Support for Hizbullah
Chomsky, Free Arab Voice On Hizbullah
BBC World Service: Reporting Religion

Last revised: 11/04/2006

Friday, August 04, 2006

 

A Critique of Jewish Voice for Peace

This is from the last part of Zionists Out of the Peace Movement: A Special Invitation to Progressive German Activists

Addendum

From the Jewish Voice for Peace FAQ page with my comments in bold:

Q: Are you Zionist, anti-Zionist, post-Zionist or something else?

A: JVP is an organization with a wide spectrum of ideological diversity. Our members hold a wide variety of views on many issues involved in the Israel-Palestine conflict. This diversity has been a great source of strength for JVP. The organization welcomes people from many different political points of view, asking only that they hold to our core principles. Those political points of connection include the following:
JVP dodges the question and the points they outline below are consistent with Zionist thinking that suggests the maintenance of the Jewish supremacist state occupying the 78% of Palestine seized in 1948 (a.k.a. Israel) is at risk due to the continuing occupation of the 22% of Palestine seized in 1967.
  • We are committed to an end to the Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. We see ending the Occupation as the beginning, not the end, of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
  • The root of ending the Occupation is here in the United States, not in Israel, and we work for an end to US military aid to Israel until the Occupation ends.
  • Interest groups within the United States, such as the Christian Zionist lobby, the arms and aerospace industry lobbies, and right-leaning Jewish organizations, have a vested interest in maintaining the Occupation. But since the Occupation threatens the peace and security of the Middle East, the true interests of the United States, as well as those of Palestinians and Israelis, lie in ending the Occupation.
No explicit mention here of the Israel lobby or the Jewish Zionist lobby.
  • We support a solution to the Palestinian refugee crisis that will also preserve the right of the Israeli people to self-determination. International law calls for the rights of nations to self-determination and a right of return for all refugees. We believe these two important principles of international law must be balanced to find a workable and just resolution to this long-time crisis.
It is outrageous for JVP to invoke the right of self-determination in order to sustain Israel--a nation-state created by immigrants and as a result of clear violations of the Palestinian right of self-determination in the forms of the British mandate, the UN Partition resolution, and the Zionist war of 1947-1949. The Zionists at JVP have turned the right of self-determination on its head in order to justify keeping millions of Palestinian refugees in exile so that Jewish supremacy can be maintained in the 78% of Palestine violently seized in 1948.
  • We firmly state that it is not anti-Semitic to criticize the policies of the government of the State of Israel or the policies of the Jewish establishment in the US. But we also believe that actual anti-Semitism is alive and well and is mostly misunderstood both on the left and in the mainstream.
If as JVP admits "it is not anti-Semitic to criticize the policies of the government of the State of Israel or the policies of the Jewish establishment in the US" then just what is it that is "misunderstood"?
  • We stand against all violence against civilians. We believe that the Occupation is the root cause of the violence, and that the Occupation itself, with its checkpoints, harassment, and dispossession of Palestinians is itself an act of violence. We believe that all attacks on civilians, whether by the Israeli army or Palestinian militias, are war crimes.
Zionism is at the root of the "Occupation" and all of the atrocities committed to maintain it but JVP has conveniently taken Zionism off the table.
  • We believe that when the Occupation ends, it will then become possible to consider all the different ideas for a permanent and sustainable peace in the Middle East. We believe that an open dialogue that includes all different formulations of such a permanent solution are legitimate, as long as they each respect the individual and collective rights of both Israelis and Palestinians.
This is clearly Zionist doubletalk, JVP welcomes "an open dialogue that includes all different formulations" but not any that would question Jewish supremacy in the 78% of Palestine seized in 1948.
JVP's "core principles" follow a long line of deliberate Zionist use of language for the purposes of deception. Zionists use ambiguous language to trick the lazy and the careless into supporting them or at least dropping their guard. The 1917 Balfour Declaration provides another prominent example:
The term Heimstatte ("national home") was coined by Max Nordau, with a view to disarming suspicion about any larger intentions for statehood. Writing to fellow Zionist who needed persuading, he described it as "a circumlocution that would express all we meant, but would say it in a way that would avoid provoking the Turkish rulers of the coveted land. ... I suggested it," he went on, "as a synonym for 'State.' This is the history of the much commented expression. It was equivocal, but we all understood what it meant. To us it signified Judenstaat then and it signifies the same now."*
*Source: Kenneth Cragg. The Arab Christian: A History in the Middle East. (Lousiville, Ky.: Westminster/John Knox Pr., 1991) p. 255, n. 2 citing Christopher Sykes. Two Studies in Virtues. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1953), p. 100. Der Judenstaat ("The Jewish State") was the title of Theodor Herzl's pivotal 1896 book articulating the Zionist dream which became a Palestinian nightmare.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

 

Appeals by Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem on the Current Crisis in the Middle East

On July 26th the Rt. Rev. Riah H. Abu El-Assal, Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, issued a letter of appeal. In the closing, the Bishop makes certain requests of us and urges us "not to be like a disciple watching from afar." He followed up with another letter on August 2nd and I encourage you to read it, too, but I find his first letter more compelling and more revealing of the nature of the conflict in Palestine. The text of the first letter follows:
Dear Friends,

For the past forty years we have been largely alone on this desert fighting a predator that not only has robbed us of all but a small piece of our historic homeland, but threatens the traditions and holy sites of Christianity. We are tired, weary, sick, and wounded. We need your help.

We have seen and we have been the recipients of the generosity of our American and British friends. We cherish the support of everyone throughout the world who stands with us in solidarity. Daily, I hear from many of them who express outrage at the arrogant and aggressive positions of President Bush, Secretary Rice, Senator Clinton, and Prime Minister Blair. I am saddened to realise just how much the deserved prestige of the United States and Britain has declined as a result of politicians who seem to devalue human life and suffering. And, I am disturbed that the Zionist Christian community is damaging America’s image as never before.

Little more than a week ago, we were focused on the plight of the Palestinian people. In Gaza, four and five generations have been victims of Israeli racism, hate crimes, terror, violence, and murder. Garbage and sewage have created a likely outbreak of cholera as Israeli strategies create the collapse of infrastructures. There is no milk. Drinking water, food, and medicine are in serious short supply. Innocents are being killed and dying from lack of available emergency care. Children are paying the ultimate price. Even for those whose lives are spared, many of them are traumatised and will not grow to live useful lives. Commerce between the West Bank and Gaza has been halted and humanitarian aid barely trickles into some of the neediest in the world.

Movement of residents of the West Bank is difficult or impossible as “security measures” are heightened to break the backs of the Palestinian people and cut them off from their place of work, schools, hospitals, and families. It is family and community that has sustained these people during these hopeless times. For some, it is all that they had, but that too has been taken away with the continued building of the wall and check points. The strategy of ethnic cleansing on the part of the State of Israel continues.

This week, war broke out on the Lebanon-Israeli border (near Banyas where Jesus gave St. Peter the keys to heaven and earth). The Israeli government’s disproportionate reaction to provocation was consistent with their opportunistic responses in which they destroy their perceived enemy.

In her recent article, “The Insane Brutality of the State of Israel,” American, Kathleen Christison, a former CIA analyst says, “The state lashes out in a crazed effort, lacking any sense of proportion, to reassure itself of its strength.” She continues, “A society that can brush off as unimportant an army officer’s brutal murder of a thirteen year old girl on the claim that she threatened soldiers at a military post (one of nearly seven hundred Palestinian children murdered by Israelis since the Intifada began) is not a society with a conscience.” The “situation” as it has come to be called, has deteriorated into a war without boundaries or limitations. It is a war with deadly potential beyond the imaginations of most civilized people.

As I write to you, I am preparing to leave with other bishops for Nablus with medical and other emergency supplies for five hundred families, and a pledge for one thousand families more.

On Saturday we will attempt to enter Gaza with medical aid for doctors and nurses in our hospital there who struggle to serve the injured, the sick, and the dying.

My plan is that I will be able to go to Lebanon next week - where we are presently without a resident priest - to bury the dead, and comfort the victims of war. Perhaps as others have you will ask, “What can I do?” Certainly we encourage and appreciate your prayers. That is important, but it is not enough. If you find that you can no longer look away, take up your cross. It takes courage as we were promised.

Write every elected official you know. Write to your news media. Speak to your congregation, friends, and colleagues about injustice and the threat of global war. If Syria, Iran, the United States, Great Britain, China and others enter into this war - the consequence is incalculable. Participate in rallies and forums. Find ways that you and your churches can participate in humanitarian relief efforts for the region. Contact us and let us know if you stand with us. I urge you not to be like a disciple watching from afar.

2 Corinthians 6.11
"We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians, our heart is wide open to you. There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. In return - I speak as to children - open wide your hearts also."

In, with, and through Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Riah H. Abu El-Assal
Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem
Last revised: 9/21/06

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Indians at home – Indians in Cornwall, Indians in Wales, Indians in Ireland

A couple of weeks ago I received a message from a friend that included a quote from Malcolm X's February 14, 1965, speech "After the Bombing" (at bottom) and several excerpts from Gerry Gambill's 1968 speech "On the Art of Stealing Human Rights." The message also contained the following commentary:
After proven 'successful' (or so they think) in the stolen lands of America against the 'natives', the art of human rights stealing is now being applied 'internationally' to the rest of humanity -other 'natives'- by the so called 'international community'-- a mere code word for barbaric savage and RACIST western-European-American-Zionist powers that be-- through using and abusing their 'international' organisations...
This comment exemplifies the widespread and mistaken notion that colonialism was only used by Europeans against non-Europeans and that it always had a strong racist component. In fact, the techniques of colonialism and empire and their international application are very old and the racial element is comparatively new--no more than five or six hundred years old--and was largely a rationalization, not a motive for the exploitation of non-European people.

The English, for example, began their violent occupation of Ireland in 1171--more than eight hundred years ago--and they occupy a large part of the country to this very day. Millions of Irish died or were displaced during, or as a result of, the conquest. The campaigns of Oliver Cromwell were especially bloody.

In 1652, Roger Williams-- a prominent English Puritan minister and founder of Rhode Island--published The Hireling Ministry None of Christ's. In it, he wrote
If the holy Scripture ... and doleful experience may be judge, as an eminent person lately spake (upon occasion of a debate touching the conversion of the Indians), we have Indians at home--Indians in Cornwall, Indians in Wales, Indians in Ireland ...[1]
Williams was familiar with the exploits of Cromwell, a fellow Puritan, and even makes reference to him later in The Hireling Ministry[2]. So, the reference to Indians in Cornwall, Wales, and Ireland takes on a different meaning if we consider what was going in Ireland, for example.

After the conclusion of the English Civil War, in 1649, Cromwell landed with 15,000 troops in English-occupied Dublin. The first major battle of campaign was the siege of Drogheda. Cromwell said in a letter: "It has pleased God to bless our endeavours at Drogheda … I believe we put to the sword the whole number of the defendants. I do not think thirty of the whole number escaped with their lives. Those that did, are in safe custody for the Barbadoes ..."

Cromwell repeated his exploits at Wexford, Waterford, and Limerick. When Cromwell was finished one quarter of the Catholic population was dead, the tiny Protestant minority controlled 75% of the cultivable land, and thousands had been forced into exile or slavery in the West Indies. [3]

The period was commemorated by the Irish poet Yeats in his "The Curse Of Cromwell." Here's the first stanza:
You ask what - I have found, and far and wide I go:
Nothing but Cromwell's house and Cromwell's murderous crew,
The lovers and the dancers are beaten into the clay,
And the tall men and the swordsmen and the horsemen, where are they?
And there is an old beggar wandering in his pride - -
His fathers served their fathers before Christ was crucified.
O what of that, O what of that,
What is there left to say?
Update: Indians in Ireland--Take II

See also:
Notes:
1. Perry Miller. Roger Williams: His Contribution to the American Tradition. (New York: Atheneum, 1974). p. 200.
2. Ibid. p. 202.
3. Phil Evans and Eileen Pollock. Ireland for Beginners. (New York: Writer and Reader Pub., 1994.) pp. 15-18.

--------------------------
I might point out here that colonialism or imperialism, as the slave system of the West is called, is not something that is just confined to England or France or the United States. The interests in this country are in cahoots with the interests in France and the interests in Britain. It's one huge complex or combine, and it creates what's known not as the American power structure or the French power structure, but an international power structure. This international power structure is used to suppress the masses of dark-skinned people all over the world and exploit them of their natural resources.
--Malcolm X
Last revised: 04/17/2007

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