Progressive Calendar 06.10.08
From: David Shove (
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]" <wamm [at]>
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,

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:
for a New American Policy on Iran

--------2 of 15--------

From: Joan Vanhala <joan [at]>
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
 * 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]>
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] 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

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]>
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]>
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]>
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]>
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]
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]

--------9 of 15--------

From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at]>
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]>
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] 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

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

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

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,

--------13 of 15--------

The Tipping Point for Media Reform
by Megan Tady
Sunday, June 8, 2008

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

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 (,
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

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

"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

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

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
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

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

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]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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