|Progressive Calendar 06.10.08||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2008 11:29:16 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 06.10.08 1. Iran call-in 6.10 2. Race/env/justice 6.11 12noon 3. Traffricking 6.11 12noon 4. Eyes wide open 6.11 7pm 5. Amnesty Intl 6.11 7:30pm 6. New Hope demo 6.12 4:30pm 7. Eagan vigil 6.12 4:30pm 8. Northtown vigil 6.12 5pm 9. AWC volunteer 6.12 5pm 10. Islam 6.12 7pm 11. Michael Cavlan - Kucinich & Cavlan: impeach Bush 12. Cynthia Peters - War on communities 13. Megan Tady - The tipping point for media reform 14. Chris Hedges - The Iran trap 15. Uri Avnery - No, I can't! Obama, Israel and AIPAC --------1 of 15-------- Date: Mon, 9 Jun 2008 11:55:54 -0500 From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Iran call-in 6.10 NO WAR ON IRAN!! Today is National Call-in Day> Call Congress Now!!! Like the war on Iraq? You'll love the war on Iran. Are you still flabbergasted that the Bush administration CHOSE to go to war on Iraq before it had exhausted every possible option? Today, CHOOSE to take action to prevent the next war - this time, on Iran. If not you, who? June 2008: Some actions to take to prevent war on Iran! TUESDAY, JUNE 10: National Call-In Day Thousands of activists across the country will call Congress on Tuesday and speak out for peace and diplomacy. Add your voice to the chorus! Call your Senators and Representative | 1-800-788-9372 * Tell them to work for direct, unconditional, and comprehensive talks between the U.S. and Iran. * The U.S. and Iran share common interests in a stable Iraq, Middle East and Afghanistan. * The U.S. pursued negotiations with North Korea and Libya - it's time to talk with Iran. The same people who enthusiastically advocated the invasion of Iraq are once again raising the drumbeat for military action against Iran. While the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (November 2007) seemed to undermine the case for launching a military attack against Iran, the Bush administration is now beefing up its justifications for war. It is labeling Iran one of the greatest threats to American security, and blaming Tehran for the difficulties American troops face in Iraq. The reality is that the staggering economic, humanitarian, political and military consequences of a conflict between the U.S. and Iran would damage American strategic interests for years to come. Bombing Iran would bring disastrous consequences. The entire Middle East likely would descend into further violence putting the well-being of innumerable civilians at risk. U.S. standing in the world would plummet and oil prices would soar. A U.S. attack would only strengthen hardliners in Iran. More information: <http://ent.groundspring.org/EmailNow/pub.php?module=URLTracker&cmd=track&j=215962779&u=2227384>Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran --------2 of 15-------- From: Joan Vanhala <joan [at] metrostability.org> Subject: Race/env/justice 6.11 12noon Wednesday, June 11: Racial and Environmental Justice Racial justice is a key issue that must be dealt with more prominently in the future of the environmental movement. Our panel of guest speakers includes: * Karen Monahan, Environmental Justice Organizer for Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota * Dr. Cecilia Martinez, Senior Policy Fellow and Faculty at the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy * Cesia Kearns, Conservation Organizer for the Northstar Chapter of the Sierra Club All roundtables are from noon to 1:30 pm at the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability office, Suite 200, 2525 East Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis. Roundtable events are free but an RSVP is required and space is limited. Please RSVP. --------3 of 15-------- From: Human Rights Center Development Desk <hrcfund [at] umn.edu> Subject: Traffricking 6.11 12noon June 11, 2008 - 2008 Women's Human Rights Speaker Series: Trafficking of Native American Women and Girls. Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm. Cost: FREE & open to the public, registration required. Featuring Suzanne Koepplinger RSVP to: mhunt [at] advrights.org or 612-341-3302, ext 107 Trafficking into sexual slavery is a growing problem in American Indian communities. Anecdotal evidence leads us to believe that Indian girls as young as 11 are being trafficked into prostitution. It is a revenue stream for organized crime and gangs, and a human rights violation for the victims. The girls suffer repeated trauma, become chemically addicted, and suffer from mental illnesses, high rates of STDs, HIV, the effects of forced abortions and beatings. They need long term, comprehensive social services, including housing, job training, education, mental health care, chemical dependency services, and mentoring to recover. Culturally-specific services can also play an important role in women and girls' healing. Law enforcement, the judicial system, government, tribes, the funding community, social service providers, faith-based organizations and schools must all work holistically to raise awareness, educate communities and provide assistance for victims. This workshop will provide an overview of the issue of sex trafficking and explore what is taking place in Minnesota, with particular focus on the state's American Indian communities. Suzanne Koepplinger, M.A., has been the Executive Director of the Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center since December of 2003. She has a background in international project development and management, communications, domestic violence advocacy, and fundraising. Suzanne serves on the State of Minnesota Children's Justice Initiative/Alcohol and Other Drugs (CJI/AOD) Core Team, Metro Urban Indian Directors (MUID) Group, MACC Alliance of Connected Communities Board of Directors, and the Greater Twin Cities United Way Council of Agency Executives - Executive Committee. Civic/volunteer activities include serving on the Steering Committee for the Sheila Wellstone Institute, on the FBI Civil Rights Advisory Group, and as international team leader for Global Citizens Network, bringing volunteers into indigenous communities around the globe. Suzanne is of Canadian Mohawk and European ancestry, holds a Masters degree in the Art of Leadership from Augsburg College and is a Certified Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist. She is the 2007 recipient of the Minneapolis FBI Director's Community Leadership Award and the 2008 recipient of the Sheila Wellstone Gold WATCH Award. Location: Briggs and Morgan, Minnesota Room, 2200 IDS Tower, 80 South 8th Street, Minneapolis --------4 of 15--------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Eyes wide open 6.11 7pm Wednesday, 6/11, 7 pm, meeting to plan Eyes Wide Open exhibit of boots and shoes of Iraq war dead during the Republican National Convention (about 50 volunteers needed), at the Twin Cities Friends Meeting, 1725 Grand Ave, St Paul. FFI Jeannette at 612-823-4036. --------5 of 15-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Amnesty Intl 6.11 7:30pm AIUSA Group 640 (Saint Paul) meets Wednesday, June 11th, at 7:30 p.m. Mad Hatter Teahouse, 943 West 7th Street, Saint Paul. --------6 of 15-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: New Hope demo 6.12 4:30pm NWN4P-New Hope demonstration every Thursday 4:30 to 6 PM at the corner of Winnetka and 42nd. You may park near Walgreens or in the larger lot near McDonalds; we will be on all four corners. Bring your own or use our signs. --------7 of 15-------- From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at] msn.com> Subject: Eagan peace vigil 6.12 4:30pm CANDLELIGHT PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends south of the river speaking out against war. --------8 of 15-------- From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 6.12 5pm NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy 10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine. Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park, Fridley, and Coon Rapids. We'll have extra signs. For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at] aol.com. --------9 of 15-------- From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at] gmail.com> Subject: AWC volunteer 6.12 5pm Volunteer Day THURS, 6/12 @ 5pm @ Anti-War Committee Office, 1313 5th St. SE, Rm 213* Bring your creativity and energy to paint signs, do data entry, make buttons, etc. Artistic skills welcome, but not required. We meet at 7pm and you are welcome to stay for the meeting if you want to help plan our demonstration against John McCain! --------10 of 15-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: Islam 6.12 7pm "Islam - Myth and Reality" will be the topic when Arafat El-Bakri speaks on Thursday June 12, 7 PM. Mr. El-Bakri will be at the Robbinsdale United Church of Christ, 4200 Lake Road, Robbinsdale, 55422. He is a popular speaker on the topic of Islam at universities, churches, public schools, and community groups throughout the Twin Cities area. El-Bakri founded the Islamic Relief and Social Services organization, an outgrowth of his work on the Bosnia Relief Committee. This presentation is sponsored by the National and Global Ministry of RUCC and Northwest Neighbors for Peace. A second program in this series, "Meet Your Muslim Neighbors: A Dialogue", will take place in the same location on Thursday June 26th, 7 PM and will feature a panel of local residents. Both programs are free and open to the public. For more information, Gloria at gjpeck [at] yahoo.com or Carole, 763-546-5368. * --------11 of 15-------- Kucinich & Cavlan: Impeach Bush Michael Cavlan campaign Monday, June 9. 2008 The Michael Cavlan for US Senate Campaign Committee offers the congratulations to Representative Dennis Kucinich and to the American people who have been working long and hard for the impeachment of George W. Bush. This evening Representative Kucinich delivered 35 Articles of Impeachment of the President to the United States House of Representatives. Candidate Cavlan now calls upon Senator Norm Coleman, as a representative of the people of Minnesota to join in this impeachment effort. Senator Coleman must fulfill his responsibility as the voice of the majority of the people of Minnesota who seek justice for the many evil and immoral events set in motion by the Bush administration. Michael Cavlan was among the first to publicly call for the impeachment of President Bush. He has been a leader for the impeachment movement in Minnesota. The members of the movement have spoken many times to members of Congress to tell them of the rising numbers of people who were in support of their efforts and have been ignored. Cavlan is challenging Senator Coleman to listen to those people and become a leader in the Senate for the impeachment of President Bush. --Dori Ullman, Campaign Manager The Committee to Elect Michael Cavlan to the US Senate 2008 --------12 of 15-------- War on Communities By Cynthia Peters June, 02 2008 ZNet This foreclosure crisis isn't just about people losing their homes," said Cheryl Lawrence, tenant organizer for City Life/Vida Urbana in Boston, Massachusetts. "It's about people losing their communities, their neighbors, the relationships they have with others that give them history and make them feel connected." I spoke to Lawrence at an 8:30 AM rally in front of the Meyers's family home in Dorchester, Massachusetts on April 16, 2008. The police were scheduled to show up that morning to evict ten people from the three-family home they were renting. "This is an amazing case," explained Steve Meacham, another tenant organizer from City Life. "US Bank/Wells Fargo/Premier Servicers foreclosed on the owner and are now trying to evict everyone in the building. That includes four brothers and sisters and a licensed day care center. Each household was paying rent of $1,000-$1,300 before foreclosure. They are willing to pay rent again. The bank will not accept it." The statistics on foreclosure are alarming. The Center for Responsible Lending estimates that two million homeowners who have been sold unfair and deceptive loans will face foreclosure in the next two to three years. Over the last 4 years, there has been an almost 300 percent increase in the dollar amount of subprime loans outstanding. One in five subprime mortgages originating during the past two years is likely to end in foreclosure. In Boston alone, 2,000 families will face eviction in 2008. But the statistics don't tell the full story. "At a tenant meeting last night," Lawrence told me, "I spoke with someone whose grandmother's house had recently been foreclosed. This was the house where family members had been born, where they had celebrated weddings and birthdays. One of the family members is a midwife. When they have to leave their home, the community loses part of its fabric.... We're not just losing buildings. We're losing our midwives, our activists, our day cares. There is a social cost to the community, not just an economic cost." Moments later a school bus pulled up and one of the children ran down the steps, through the crowd that had gathered to stop his family from being evicted, and up on to the bus. You could easily imagine that bus pulling up and no one being there to board. You could imagine how hard it must be to concentrate in school when you're not sure if police are moving your furniture onto the sidewalk. "But when people gather like they are here this morning, they're saying, 'We won't let our communities die.' We won't stand by while people suffer the trauma that comes from being uprooted from their homes." In Boston, as well as in cities around the country, activists recognize foreclosure crisis for what it is - part of an ongoing, sustained war on people and communities - and are mobilizing to defend themselves. "The profit-making structure and a sense of community don't go together," says Lawrence. [Capitalism /or/ good lives. Your choice. -ed] Thanks to the organizing efforts of City Life/Vida Urbana and the courage of community members willing to physically block the eviction and risk arrest, the Meyers family won a temporary reprieve from losing their home. In the process, the community won a degree of stability, a child left for school knowing he could come back afterwards, and a group of activists had another chance to learn the power of standing together against forces that value profit over people. Cynthia Peters is a community and anti-war activist in Boston. She is also a freelance editor and is currently the editor of The Change Agent. Photos by Jonathan McIntosh, www.rebelliouspixels.com. --------13 of 15-------- The Tipping Point for Media Reform by Megan Tady Sunday, June 8, 2008 CommonDreams.org There are moments in every decade when monumental struggles for social change finally tip in favor of the public interest. We've seen the relief of a 40-hour work week, the long-awaited arrival of women's right to vote, and the even longer fight to end segregation. This decade - now - we're facing another tipping point. Our fight is to reform our broken media system, and to stop heavy-handed corporate control of what Americans read, watch and hear. Ensuring that our press act as watchdogs for the American people is at the heart of a thriving democracy. In late May, in an historic victory, the Senate overwhelmingly voted to overturn rules that would allow one company to own both a major daily newspaper and a TV or radio station in the same community. The Senate rejected a Federal Communications Commission decision that would have had disastrous effects on local news. Media consolidation has already contributed to the demise of investigative journalism, gutted newsrooms, and put the private interests' of media owners over the public's right to know. Allowing big media companies to become the dominant mouthpiece for local news and information would drown out the homegrown voices and diversity that are the lifeblood of communities. The "Resolution of Disapproval" now moves to the House, where there is strong bipartisan incentive to follow the Senate's lead. If passed by both branches and approved by the president, the resolution would nullify the FCC's rules. And although the Bush Administration has promised a veto, there appears to be enough legislative support to override Bush's attempts to give favors to media conglomerates like Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. What's happening is truly groundbreaking - only in recent years has the public realized it could have an impact on complex communications policy. The powerful broadcast lobby got used to dictating policy without public involvement or consent. What changed? The public is refusing to back down. The Senate victory wasn't just won by inside lobby groups in Washington. It was won by more than a quarter-million citizens who told their representatives time and again that runaway media consolidation is unacceptable. And it was won by the thousands who in hearings held around the country told the FCC that Big Media hurts our communities, our country, and our democracy. The opportunity to alter the U.S. media system and create profound social change is immense. There's never been more public and political support behind this issue. And the National Conference on Media Reform - a gathering this weekend in Minneapolis of thousands of folks who want to change the media - has never come at a more opportune time. More than 3,000 people converged in Minneapolis to strategize on how to take back the media, and capitalize on the momentum of the Senate victory. Media luminaries Bill Moyers, Dan Rather and Amy Goodman joined forces with students, community members, journalists, bloggers, and activists - everyone who's fed up with Big Media. There's been a lot of talk lately about hope. Americans want to see social change. But we have more than hope on our side in the battle for a more diverse and divested press - we have the power of a growing people's movement and the burgeoning political will of our leaders. This fight isn't in the bag - in fact, it's far from over. But the scales are tipping in our favor, and before long, there will be an avalanche to reform the media and transform our democracy. Megan Tady is a campaign coordinator with Free Press (www.freepress.net), the national, nonpartisan media reform group. These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. --------14 of 15-------- The Iran Trap by Chris Hedges Monday, June 9, 2008 Truthdig The failure by Barack Obama to chart another course in the Middle East, to defy the Israel lobby and to denounce the Bush administration's inexorable march toward a conflict with Iran is a failure to challenge the collective insanity that has gripped the political leadership in the United States and Israel. Obama, in a miscalculation that will have grave consequences, has given his blessing to the widening circle of violence and abuse of the Palestinians by Israel and, most dangerously, to those in the Bush White House and Jerusalem now plotting a war against Iran. He illustrates how the lust for power is morally corrosive. And while he may win the White House, by the time he takes power he will be trapped in George Bush's alternative reality. We need to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. We need to stay the hand of Israel, which is building more settlements - including a new plan to put 800 housing units in occupied East Jerusalem - and imposing draconian measures to physically break the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza. We need, most of all, to prevent a war with Iran. House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, in a letter to President Bush on May 8, threatened to open impeachment proceedings if Bush attacked Iran. The letter is a signal that planning for strikes on Iran is under way and pronounced. "Our concerns in this area have been heightened by more recent events," Conyers wrote. "The resignation in mid-March of Admiral William J. 'Fox' Fallon from the head of U.S. Central Command, which was reportedly linked to a magazine article that portrayed him as the only person who might stop your Administration from waging preemptive war against Iran, has renewed widespread concerns that your Administration is unilaterally planning for military action against that country. This is despite the fact that the December 2007 National Intelligence Estimate concluded that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003, a stark reversal of previous Administration assessments". The administration, in rhetoric that is eerily similar to that used to build the case for a war against Iraq, asserts that the Iranian Quds Force is arming anti-American groups in Iraq and providing them with high-tech roadside bombs and sophisticated rockets. It dismisses the National Intelligence Estimate conclusion that Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program. The White House has not provided evidence to back up its claims. I suspect it never will. And when Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz tells the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth an attack on Iran is "unavoidable" if Tehran does not halt its alleged nuclear weapons program, what he is really telling us is we should prepare for war. Conyers' threat is too little too late, especially if the Bush White House, possibly assisted by Israel, launches airstrikes on some or all of 1,000 selected Iranian targets in the final weeks of the administration. But it is an effort. Conyers tried. This is more than we can say for the presumptive Democratic nominee. Obama went before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Wednesday and said he will stand with the right-wing Israeli government, even if this means backing an attack on Iran. "As president I will use all elements of American power to pressure Iran," he said. "I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything". Obama went on to blame the Palestinians for the conflict, although the ratio of Palestinians to Israelis killed in 2007 was 40 to 1. This is an increase from 30 to 1 in 2006 and 4 to 1 in 2000-2005. "I will bring to the White House an unshakable commitment to Israel's security. That starts with ensuring Israel's qualitative military advantage," Obama told AIPAC. "I will ensure Israel can defend itself from any threat, from Gaza to Tehran". Obama spoke about Israelis whose houses were damaged by the crude rockets, most made out of old pipes, fired from Gaza on Israeli towns. He never mentioned the Israeli siege of Gaza, the world's largest open-air prison, or that Israel was deploying fighter jets and helicopters to attack densely crowded refugee camps with missiles and iron fragmentation bombs or that it had cut off food and fuel. He ignored the steady expansion of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land. He called for Jerusalem to become the "undivided capital" of the Jewish state, erasing Arab East Jerusalem from the map in contravention of international law. East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are internationally recognized as occupied Palestinian territories, which Israel took over in 1967. Obama's stance is the moral equivalent of assuring the Johannesburg government during the apartheid era that one would support their repressive efforts to punish the restive blacks in the townships. The deterioration of the conflict in Israel, which would be accelerated by airstrikes on Iran and an ensuring regional war, will propel us into the Armageddon-type scenario in the Middle East relished by the lunatic fringes of the radical Christian right. And so, with Obama's enthusiastic endorsement, we barrel toward a Dr. Strangelove self-immolation. No one will be able to say we did not go out with a spectacular show of firepower, gore and death. Our European and Middle Eastern allies, who are numb with consternation over our death spiral, are frantically trying to reach out to Tehran diplomatically. The instant we attack Iran, oil prices will double, perhaps triple. This price increase will devastate the American economy. The ensuing retaliatory strikes by Iran on Israel, as well as on American military installations in Iraq, will leave hundreds, maybe thousands, of dead. The Shiites in the region, from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, will see an attack on Iran as a war against Shiism. They will turn with rage and violence on us and our allies. Hezbollah will renew attacks on northern Israel. And the localized war in Iraq will become a long, messy and protracted regional war that, by the time it is done, will most likely end the American empire and leave in its wake mounds of corpses and smoldering ruins. The Israeli leadership, like the Bush White House, is increasingly bellicose and threatening. The Israeli prime minister, after a 90-minute meeting with Bush in the White House on Wednesday, said the two leaders were of one mind. "We reached agreement on the need to take care of the Iranian threat," Ehud Olmert said. "I left with a lot less questions marks [than] I had entered with regarding the means, the timetable restrictions and American resoluteness to deal with the problem. George Bush understands the severity of the Iranian threat and the need to vanquish it and intends to act on the matter before the end of his term in the White House". This time around, unlike about the war with Iraq, the Washington bureaucracy, loathed by the Bush White House, did not remain silent and complicit. The National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear program released last Dec. 3 distinguished Iran's enrichment of uranium at Natanz and Arak from its formal nuclear weapons program, which it said had halted in 2003 after the American invasion of Iraq. Adm. Fallon, who put his country and his integrity before his career, spoke out against a war with Iran, tried to stop it and lost his job as the head of CENTCOM. He has been replaced with Gen. David H. Petraeus, whose devotion to his career admits no such moral impediments. "There is no greater threat to Israel or peace than Iran," Obama assured AIPAC. "This audience is made up of both Republicans and Democrats. And the enemies of Israel should have no doubt that regardless of party, Americans stand shoulder to shoulder in support of Israel's security. . The Iran regime supports violent extremists and challenges us across the region. It pursues a nuclear capability that could spark a dangerous arms race and - its president denies the Holocaust and threatens to wipe Israel off the map. - [M]y goal will be to eliminate this threat". Barack Obama, when we need sane leadership the most, has proved feckless and weak. He, and the Democratic leadership, is as morally bankrupt as those preparing to ignite our funeral pyre in the Middle East. Chris Hedges, who graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times, is the author of "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America". - [The US is a large evil country. Israel is a small evil country. Size if the main difference, not essence. -ed] --------15 of 15-------- No, I Can't! Obama, Israel and AIPAC By URI AVNERY CounterPunch June 9, 2008 After months of a tough and bitter race, a merciless struggle, Barack Obama has defeated his formidable opponent, Hillary Clinton. He has wrought a miracle: for the first time in history a black person has become a credible candidate for the presidency of the most powerful country in the world. And what was the first thing he did after his astounding victory? He ran to the conference of the Israel lobby, AIPAC, and made a speech that broke all records for obsequiousness and fawning. That is shocking enough. Even more shocking is the fact that nobody was shocked. IT WAS a triumphalist conference. Even this powerful organization had never seen anything like it. 7000 Jewish functionaries from all over the United States came together to accept the obeisance of the entire Washington elite, which came to kowtow at their feet. All the three presidential hopefuls made speeches, trying to outdo each other in flattery. 300 Senators and Members of Congress crowded the hallways. Everybody who wants to be elected or reelected to any office, indeed everybody who has any political ambitions at all, came to see and be seen. The Washington of AIPAC is like the Constantinople of the Byzantine emperors in its heyday. The world looked on and was filled with wonderment. The Israeli media were ecstatic. In all the world's capitals the events were followed closely and conclusions were drawn. All the Arab media reported on them extensively. Aljazeera devoted an hour to a discussion of the phenomenon. The most extreme conclusions of professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt were confirmed in their entirety. On the eve of their visit to Israel, this coming Thursday, the Israel Lobby stood at the center of political life in the US and the world at large. WHY, ACTUALLY? Why do the candidates for the American presidency believe that the Israel lobby is so absolutely essential to their being elected? The Jewish votes are important, of course, especially in several swing states which may decide the outcome. But African-Americans have more votes, and so do the Hispanics. Obama has brought to the political scene millions of new young voters. Numerically, the Arab-Muslim community in the US is also not an insignificant factor. Some say that Jewish money speaks. The Jews are rich. Perhaps they donate more than others for political causes. But the myth about all-powerful Jewish money has an anti-Semitic ring. After all, other lobbies, and most decidedly the huge multinational corporations, have given considerable sums of money to Obama (as well as to his opponents). And Obama himself has proudly announced that hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens have sent him small donations, which have amounted to tens of millions. True, it has been proven that the Jewish lobby can almost always block the election of a senator or a member of Congress who does not dance - and do so with fervor - to the Israeli tune. In some exemplary cases (which were indeed meant to be seen as examples) the lobby has defeated popular politicians by lending its political and financial clout to the election campaign of a practically unknown rival. But in a presidential race? THE TRANSPARENT fawning of Obama on the Israel lobby stands out more than similar efforts by the other candidates. Why? Because his dizzying success in the primaries was entirely due to his promise to bring about a change, to put an end to the rotten practices of Washington and to replace the old cynics with a young, brave person who does not compromise his principles. And lo and behold, the very first thing he does after securing the nomination of his party is to compromise his principles. And how! The outstanding thing that distinguishes him from both Hillary Clinton and John McCain is his uncompromising opposition to the war in Iraq from the very first moment. That was courageous. That was unpopular. That was totally opposed to the Israel lobby, all of whose branches were fervidly pushing George Bush to start the war that freed Israel from a hostile regime. And here comes Obama to crawl in the dust at the feet of AIPAC and go out of his way to justify a policy that completely negates his own ideas. OK he promises to safeguard Israel's security at any cost. That is usual. OK he threatens darkly against Iran, even though he promised to meet their leaders and settle all problems peacefully. OK he promised to bring back our three captured soldiers (believing, mistakenly, that all three are held by Hizbullah - an error that shows, by the way, how sketchy is his knowledge of our affairs.) But his declaration about Jerusalem breaks all bounds. It is no exaggeration to call it scandalous. NO PALESTINIAN, no Arab, no Muslim will make peace with Israel if the Haram-al-Sharif compound (also called the Temple Mount), one of the three holiest places of Islam and the most outstanding symbol of Palestinian nationalism, is not transferred to Palestinian sovereignty. That is one of the core issues of the conflict. On that very issue, the Camp David conference of 2000 broke up, even though the then Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, was willing to divide Jerusalem in some manner. Along comes Obama and retrieves from the junkyard the outworn slogan "Undivided Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel for all Eternity". Since Camp David, all Israeli governments have understood that this mantra constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to any peace process. It has disappeared - quietly, almost secretly - from the arsenal of official slogans. Only the Israeli (and American-Jewish) Right sticks to it, and for the same reason: to smother at birth any chance for a peace that would necessitate the dismantling of the settlements. In prior US presidential races, the pandering candidates thought that it was enough to promise that the US embassy would be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. After being elected, not one of the candidates ever did anything about this promise. All were persuaded by the State Department that it would harm basic American interests. Obama went much further. Quite possibly, this was only lip service and he was telling himself: OK, I must say this in order to get elected. After that, God is great. But even so the fact cannot be ignored: the fear of AIPAC is so terrible, that even this candidate, who promises change in all matters, does not dare. In this matter he accepts the worst old-style Washington routine. He is prepared to sacrifice the most basic American interests. After all, the US has a vital interest in achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace that will allow it to find ways to the hearts of the Arab masses from Iraq to Morocco. Obama has harmed his image in the Muslim world and mortgaged his future - if and when he is elected president. SIXTY FIVE years ago, American Jewry stood by helplessly while Nazi Germany exterminated their brothers and sisters in Europe. They were unable to prevail on President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to do anything significant to stop the Holocaust. (And at that same time, many Afro-Americans did not dare to go near the polling stations for fear of dogs being set on them.) What has caused the dizzying ascent to power of the American Jewish establishment? Organizational talent? Money? Climbing the social ladder? Shame for their lack of zeal during the Holocaust? The more I think about this wondrous phenomenon, the stronger becomes my conviction (about which I have already written in the past) that what really matters is the similarity between the American enterprise and the Zionist one, both in the spiritual and the practical sphere. Israel is a small America, the USA is a huge Israel. [cf ed comment above -ed] The Mayflower passengers, much as the Zionists of the first and second aliya (immigration wave), fled from Europe, carrying in their hearts a messianic vision, either religious or utopian. (True, the early Zionists were mostly atheists, but religious traditions had a powerful influence on their vision.) The founders of American society were "pilgrims", the Zionists immigrants called themselves "olim" - short for olim beregel, pilgrims. Both sailed to a "promised land", believing themselves to be God's chosen people. Both suffered a great deal in their new country. Both saw themselves as "pioneers", who make the wilderness bloom, a "people without land in a land without people". Both completely ignored the rights of the indigenous people, whom they considered sub-human savages and murderers. Both saw the natural resistance of the local peoples as evidence of their innate murderous character, which justified even the worst atrocities. Both expelled the natives and took possession of their land as the most natural thing to do, settling on every hill and under every tree, with one hand on the plow and the Bible in the other. True, Israel did not commit anything approaching the genocide performed against the Native Americans, nor anything like the slavery that persisted for many generations in the US. But since the Americans have repressed these atrocities in their consciousness, there is nothing to prevent them from comparing themselves to the Israelis. It seems that in the unconscious mind of both nations there is a ferment of suppressed guilt feelings that express themselves in the denial of their past misdeeds, in aggressiveness and the worship of power. HOW IS it that a man like Obama, the son of an African father, identifies so completely with the actions of former generations of American whites? It shows again the power of a myth to become rooted in the consciousness of a person, so that he identifies 100% with the imagined national narrative. To this may be added the unconscious urge to belong to the victors, if possible. Therefore, I do not accept without reservation the speculation: "Well, he must talk like this in order to get elected. Once in the White House, he will return to himself." I am not so sure about that. It may well turn out that these things have a surprisingly strong hold on his mental world. Of one thing I am certain: Obama's declarations at the AIPAC conference are very, very bad for peace. And what is bad for peace is bad for Israel, bad for the world and bad for the Palestinian people. If he sticks to them, once elected, he will be obliged to say, as far as peace between the two peoples of this country is concerned: "No, I can't!" Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch's book The Politics of Anti-Semitism. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 impeach bush & cheney impeach bush & cheney impeach bush & cheney impeach bush & cheney
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