Progressive Calendar 01.18.09
From: David Shove (
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2009 09:37:10 -0800 (PST)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    01.18.09

1. Atheist talks      1.18 9am/2pm/7pm
2. Stillwater vigil   1.18 1pm
3. Ban torture        1.18 1pm
4. Health/Mayer       1.18 3pm
5. Amnesty Intl       1.18 3pm

6. MLK Day HC actions 1.19 7am/9:30am/10:30am/11am/1pm
7. Poverty            1.19 9:30am
8. Palestine/MLK      1.19 3:30pm
9. Peace walk         1.19 6pm RiverFalls WI
10. Jerusalem/film    1.19 6:30pm
11. Cam Gordon        1.19 7pm
12. Gaza/Israel       1.19 7pm
13. Oxfam Action      1.19 7pm

14. Brian Cloughley - Who runs America? The power of AIPAC
15. Rannie Amiri    - The UN in Israel's crosshairs; nowhere to hide
16. Missy Beattie   - Ongoing US exceptionalism; peace & justice denied
17. Vijay Prashad   - An African-American in Gaza; the UN equals zero
18. ed              - Capital-ism  (poem)

--------1 of 18-------

From: August Berkshire <augustberkshire [at]>
Subject: Atheist talks 1.18 9am/2pm/7pm

Atheist Ex-Minister Dan Barker to Appear in Twin Cites on Sunday,
January 18, 2009

Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF)
(, will be in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area to speak about
and sell and sign his new book "Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher
Became One of America's Leading Atheists" FFRF is the country's largest
atheist organization with 14,000 members.  His visit is sponsored by
Minnesota Atheists ( ).

Sunday, January 18, 2009

9:00-10:00 a.m. - Dan will be the guest on Minnesota Atheists' "Atheists
Talk" radio program.  KTNF AM 950 or stream live on-line at  Studio call-in number: 952-946-6205 or e-mail
questions to radio [at]

2:00-3:30 p.m. - Dan will be the speaker at the Minnesota Atheists
meeting, Ramsey Country Public Library, 2180 Hamline Ave. N. (Hamline Ave.
N. & County Road B), Roseville.  Free and open to the public.  This will
be followed by dinner at 4:00 p.m. at the Panda Garden Buffet, 1706
Lexington Ave. N. (Lexington Ave. N. & Larpenteur Ave.  W.), Roseville.

7:00 p.m. - Dan will appear at Borders Bookstore, 1390 University Ave. W.
(University Ave. W. & Hamline Ave. N.), Saint Paul.

For more information, contact August Berkshire at (612) 588-7031 or
info [at] .

--------2 of 18--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 1.18 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560

--------3 of 18--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Ban torture 1.18 1pm

Campaign to Ban Torture: Chris Morton
January 18, 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Central Lutheran Church, 333 South 12th
Street, Minneapolis.

Hear Chris Morton from the Minnesota Council of Churches speak about his
involvement in the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. The
campaign against torture is a growing membership committed to ending
U.S.-sponsored torture. More than 200 groups from various religions now
are involved in the campaign. Sponsored by: the ELCA Minneapolis and Saint
Paul Area Synods Peace with Justice Committee. Endorsed by: Tackling
Torture at the Top (T3) and the St. Joan of Arc/WAMM Peacemakers. FFI:
Call, 612-870-4416.

--------4 of 18--------

From: "Of the People" <info [at]>
Subject: Health/Mayer 1.18 3pm

Of the People this Sunday, January 18th at 3 p.m. on AM950 KTNF (formerly
Air America Minnesota) with Host James Mayer.  Or stream us:
Call-in line: 952-946-6205

"Privatization" of government services, especially in the health service
industry, and especially for our elderly, destroys the safety nets which
were set in place by the government to protect us all from the so-called
"free market" predators.  We can protect ourselves and our loved ones from
them by joining together and putting to work government of, by and for the

This Sunday, Of the People will present an easy and inspiring formula for
success by a local group that shut down its county board's "not-so-open"
attempts to destroy, and subvert the expansion and development of, a
county nursing home facility and its dedicated staff in order to replace
it with a "private" facility waiting in the wings.

Our guests will take us through the simple and effective steps that led to
the people of the county asserting their will to secure the future of
their valuable county health facility by a large margin in a recent
referendum. Join James and his guests, Kim Dupre and Norm Matzek on the
Program of the People this Sunday afternoon at 3 on AM950 KTNF.

Threats to the health, strength and endurance of healthy democracy,
society and environment don't go away for the weekend. For a few weekend
moments you can refresh and regenerate your energy with James Mayer on Of
the People, a place to go for good news that the "news" corporations
monopolizing our airwaves seldom let through:  people taking action
together, on real solutions.

We hope you will tune your radio to 950 AM and join us not only in your
car, but at home as well, or stream us:
(You will be asked to put in a MN zip code).

Again, when we're on-air we invite you to call us at 952-946-6205 or
e-mail us at info [at]

Off-air, you can reach us by calling James Mayer at 651-238-3740, by
e-mail at info [at], or by U.S. mail, address: James Mayer, 970
Raymond Ave, St. Paul, MN 55114.

--------5 of 18-------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at]>
Subject: Amnesty Intl 1.18 3pm


Join us for our regular meeting on Sunday, January 18th, from 3:00 to 5:00

While our presenter has not yet been finalized, we expect to have a
program for the first hour.

For the remainder of the meeting, we will share actions on human rights
cases around the world and get updates on the work of our sub-groups.

All are welcome, and refreshments will be provided.

Location: Center for Victims of Torture, 717 E. River Rd. SE, Minneapolis
(corner of E. River Rd. and Oak St.). Park on street or in the small lot
behind the center (the Center is a house set back on a large lawn).

A map and directions are available on-line:

--------6 of 18--------

From: Joel Albers <joel [at]>
Subject: MLK Day HC actions 1.19 7am/9:30am/10:30am/11am/1pm

Here's the logistics info for MLK Day. Feel free to participate during any
and all parts of the day. We need folks to distribute Health Care flyers,
march, be present at the program, and table after the program. Pls call me
or email if you plan to participate for UHCAN-MN.

7AM to 9:30AM MLK Neighborhood breakfast, Central Presby Church, 500 Cedar
St, St Paul, free breakfast registration deadline is tomorrow,(go to

9:30 - 10:30 AM Central High School (Lexiongton and Marshall aves
intersection,St Paul) MLK Program, UHCAN-MN will flyer after as folks
exit, meet in back outside the High school at the big MLK puppet to march.
We will also have a big "publicly-funded HC"  banner.

10:30AM to 11:00 AM March from Central HC down Marshall to Concordia

11:00AM to 1PM MLK program at Concordia, a lot of speeches. Our flyer will
be added to the 3,000 packets on everybody's seat.

1PM - 3PM UHCAN-MN Tabling at Ed Fair after program.

--------7 of 18--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Poverty 1.19 9:30am

January 19: Minneapolis Branch American Association of University Women
Meeting. 9:30 AM: A Dream of Minnesota Without Poverty with Amy Brenengen
and Andrea Lindgren, both from the Office on the Economic Status of Women.
10:45: Current Issues in Urban Education with Dr. Tony Vincent. Noon
Lunch. 1:15: We Are All Storytellers with Jerry Blue. 2115 Stevens Avenue,

--------8 of 18--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Palestine/MLK 1.19 3:30pm

"Stop Israel's War Crimes Against the Palestinian People in Gaza -
Women and Children's Vigil for Peace and Justice
Monday, January 19, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Northeast Public Library, 2200
Central Avenue Northeast, Minneapolis.

Minneapolis Joins National Days of Action in Honor of Reverend Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr. Stop the Killing of the Palestinian People! Stop the War
and Siege on Gaza! End All U.S. Aid to Israel! End the Israeli Occupation
of Palestine!

On January 19, 2009, people all across the United States will celebrate
the life, legacy, and birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
who was assassinated by a racist's bullet on April 4, 1968. Dr. King was
one of the foremost leaders of the Black civil rights movement in this
country, an organizer extraordinaire for peace and justice, and an
eloquent orator who challenged racism, injustice, and oppression

Exactly one year before he was killed, in a speech entitled "Beyond
Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence," Dr. King called the U.S. government and
military the "greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."  These
words are especially significant today, as the U.S. government continues
its unequivocal support of the Israeli military's criminal bombardment and
massacre of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Approximately 920 Palestinians have been killed since the Israeli attacks
on Gaza began 17 days ago, with over 4,200 injured, according to Israeli
newspaper Haaretz. Close to 300 of the dead are children, 93 are women,
and 49% of the injured are women or children; all of these figures are
from the United Nations.

The thousands and thousands of Black civil rights organizers and
activists, with Dr. King as one of their representatives, were people of
courageous action, many of whom gave their lives to the struggle for Black
liberation, and they would not have stood idly by while this new war on
the Palestinians is being waged.

Sponsored by: the Coalition for Palestinian Rights, WAMM and the Antiwar
Committee. FFI: Call 612-437-0222.

--------9 of 18--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 1.19 6pm RiverFalls WI

River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on
the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from
"Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact:
d.n.holden [at] Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls,
Wisconsin 54022

--------10 of 18--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Jerusalem/film 1.19 6:30pm

"Jerusalem: East Side Story:" FREE Third Monday Movies and Discussion
Monday, January 19, 6:30 p.m. St. Joan of Arc Church, 4537 Third Avenue
South, Minneapolis.

In 1948 the western part of Jerusalem fell under Israeli control; in 1967
the eastern part fell under Israeli occupation. Since then, Israel has
pursued a policy of Judaizing the city, aiming to achieve "Jewish
demographic superiority." Part of this policy is to drive Palestinian
Muslims and Christians out of the city, denying their presence, history,
and ties to the land. This documentary takes you on a journey exposing
Israel's policy to gain supremacy and hegemony over the city and its
inhabitants. The film includes interviews with Palestinian and Israeli
leaders, human rights activists and political analysts. Sponsored by: the
WAMM Third Monday Movies Committee. FFI: Call WAMM, 612-827-5364.

--------11 of 18--------

From: Cam Gordon <CamGordon333 [at]>
Subject: Cam Gordon 1.19 7pm

Campaign Team Meeting Monday
We are meeting Monday at the Second Moon from 7 - 9.

--------12 of 18--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Gaza/Israel 1.19 7pm

Gaza and Israel: An Interfaith Gathering for Prayers and Conversation
Monday, January 19, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700
Snelling Avenue South, St. Paul.

Join with others to share prayers for peace and reflective/facilitated
conversation in response to the current crisis in Gaza and Israel, and the
urgent need for an alternative to violence throughout the world. Sponsored
by: the St. Paul Interfaith Network (SPIN). Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Call
Rev. Thomas Duke, 651-263-7031 or email <tduke03 [at]>.

--------13 of 18--------

From: Oxfam Action Corps - MN <minnesota [at]>
Subject: Oxfam Action 1.19 7pm

On the 3rd Monday of each month, we gather to plan our nonpartisan
grassroots activities. We've successfully organized events, lobbied
policymakers, and have used sheer creativity to stand up for meaningful
change. We meet at 7pm the unique Common Roots Café (2558 Lyndale Ave. S.,

--------14 of 18-------

The Power of AIPAC
Who Runs America?
January 16-18, 2009

Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt were pretty close, politically
and personally. They led the fight against fascism in the early 1940s, and
although they had their disagreements they got on very well. They were
both blunt in expressing their views, but there was no doubt who was the
more powerful : Roosevelt called the shots, although Churchill had a lot
of influence on him. But it would have been unthinkable for Churchill to
have behaved in the way that the present (though not for long) prime
minister of Israel did with the present (though not for long) president of
the United States.

Prime minister Olmert of Israel, who has been forced to stand down because
of allegations of corruption, telephoned President Bush to make the latter
alter his orders to his Secretary of State to support a mild resolution in
the UN Security Council that called for a ceasefire in Gaza. The barely
believable transcript of Olmert's boasting of his success is on public
record. He said:

"I [Olmert] spoke with him [Bush]; I told him: You can't vote for this
proposal. He said: listen, I don't know, I didn't see, don't know what it
says. I told him: I know, and you can't vote for it! He then instructed
the secretary of state, and she did not vote for it."

There is no other head of government in the entire world who could say
such words to the president of the United States. And will Olmert's
successor be able to speak with Bush's successor in the same way and with
a similar result?

We know the name of the next US president, but we don't know who the next
Israeli prime minister will be. It looks as if it might be a choice
between two steel-minded sadists, Tzipi Livni or Binyamin Netanyahu, both
dedicated haters of Palestine, Palestinians and Arabs in general. So what
might they be able to say to President Obama? Will they be able to pick up
the phone and call him to suggest forcefully that he alter the voting
intention of the United States of America in the UN Security Council? And
what would he do, if they did?

Given the commitment to Israel of Mr Obama and his Secretary of State,
Hillary Clinton, as was obvious in their groveling speeches last year to
the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, there is no guarantee that
they will, either of them, ever utter a word in criticism of Israel.

There is one thing certain: the US Congress is going to continue its
unconditional support for Israel, no matter what war crimes are committed
by its disgusting thugs-in-uniform. The Reps need the money, after all,
which they get through political action committees which are generously
funded by American Jews. And they are scared to political death by the
threat that pro-Israel agencies will destroy them politically if they dare
say a word against Israel.

There are very few Representatives of the people of America who would dare
challenge Israel, or who might possibly criticize Israel, or who have the
courage to condemn atrocities committed by Israel.

The worst of all the barbarians who are killing children and their mothers
and fathers in Gaza are the Israeli pilots who mercilessly bomb houses
occupied by terrified families. And they are staunchly supported by the
House of Representatives of the United States of America.

These pilots, these vile little war-gamers of the skies, these latter-day
examples of what Tom Wolfe called "The Right Stuff", can zoom over towns
full of traumatized children and happily heave and hurl their bombs and
rockets to kill yet more Palestinian kids without the remotest chance of
being shot down. How heroic; how truly gladiatorial. How contemptible.
They are blood brothers with the pilots of the Nazis' Stuka ground attack
aircraft of yesteryear, with their terrifying sirens, who bombed columns
of fleeing refugees all round Europe.

But the US House of Representatives rushed to praise Israel, and endorse
its invasion and its merciless air strikes, and committed America to a
motion "Recognizing Israel's right to defend itself against attacks from
Gaza, reaffirming the United States' strong support for Israel, and
supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process."

Not many Americans know anything about the hideous barbarity in Gaza,
because US cable networks and newspapers rarely carry pictures of
disfigured blood-splashed children who have been killed, maimed or
orphaned by the Israelis. But here in Europe we have access to some TV
channels and newspapers that are very different from the pliant pro-Zion
patsies of the major news outlets across the Atlantic.

And if US television channels carried pictures like the ones we see, there
would be such outbursts of horror and indignation that even the US
Congress might be forced to condemn the Israeli fascists for their
barbarity. But the all-powerful Israel lobby makes sure that little of the
sort will appear.

Who runs America?

The only honorable members of the House, voting against unconditional
support for Israeli killing of Palestinian children, were Democrats Dennis
Kucinich (Ohio), Maxine Waters (California), Gwen Moore (Wisconsin), and
Nick Rahall (West Virginia), along with Texas Republican Ron Paul. And Mr
Kucinich put the whole case for their vote when he said

"In Gaza, the United Nations gave the Israeli army the coordinates of a UN
school, and the school was then hit by Israeli tank fire, killing about
40. The UN put flags on emergency vehicles, coordinating the movements of
those vehicles with the Israeli military, and the vehicles came under
attack, killing emergency workers. The Israeli army evacuated 100
Palestinians to shelter, and then bombed the shelter, killing 30 people."

Blunt stuff - but it cut no ice with the 390 members of the House who
voted for Israel to continue its killing.

The Israelis have killed over a thousand Palestinians, and the UN reports
that at least 500 of these deaths were civilians, and that half of these
were women and children. One million of Gaza's 1.5 million people have no
electricity, and about 750,000 are without water. They are existing in
conditions of appalling squalor and fear, with US-supplied helicopter
gunships and F-16s striking at will, and tanks and artillery destroying
their houses and killing their children.

Yet the House votes for Israel. And the President of the United States of
America jumps to obey the Israeli prime minister. But will there be any
change under Obama and Clinton?

A year ago Hillary Clinton told the American Israeli Committee that "we
stand with Israel because of our shared values and our shared belief in
the dignity of men and women and the right to live without fear or

Last June Barack Obama told the American Israeli Committee "Now is the
time to be vigilant in facing down every foe, just as we move forward in
seeking a future of peace for the children of Israel, and for all
children. Now is the time to stand by Israel . . ."

Will they continue to support Israel, the country that has laid waste a
land and murdered over 200 women and children?

If they do, the question must be asked: Who runs America?

Brian Cloughley's book about the Pakistan army, War, Coups and Terror, has
just been published by Pen & Sword Books (UK) and will be published in the
US in May by Skyhorse (New York).

--------15 of 18--------

Nowhere to Run to, Nowhere to Hide
The UN in Israel's Crosshairs
January 16-18, 2009

History will record Israel.s onslaught in Gaza as noteworthy not only for
the wide destruction of institutions of state and civil society, but for
the deliberate targeting of the United Nations and the refugees it aided
and sheltered. And it certainly would not be the first time Israel has
done so.

On Jan. 15, in its most brazen act yet, the Israel Defense Force (IDF)
shelled the Gaza headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Words
Agency (UNRWA), the primary body responsible for feeding and assisting
Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip and beyond. At the time of the
attack, the compound housed more than 700 civilians seeking shelter from
the war and its warehouses stored thousands of pounds of critical, and
desperately needed, food and humanitarian supplies.

Even more sinister was the weapon employed: White Phosphorus (WP).

WP is known to cause severe, deep, and difficult to treat burns when it
comes in contact with skin. Despite denials by the IDF, there is evidence
of its use in Gaza and reports detailing significant burn injuries to
civilians as a result. Its use as a weapon is a flagrant violation of
international law and the UN's Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

WP bombs and shells are classified as incendiary devices and the
structures they hit continue burn for long periods since the fires they
cause are not extinguished by conventional means (water, fire
extinguishers, etc).

As food, fuel and other supplies went up in flames at the headquarters - a
location well-known to the Israelis who were given its precise GPS
coordinates - UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness aptly remarked, "What more
stark symbolism do you need?"

Indeed, the sordid history and pattern of Israel's intentional targeting
of UN compounds and schools in Lebanon and Gaza is ripe with symbolism, as
is the usual flurry of contradictory excuses, apologies and justifications
that predictably follow.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak deemed this most recent attack a "grave
mistake" while Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said it was justified because
missiles were allegedly launched there.

This very same sequence of events has been played out time and time again:
a UN facility targeting refugees Israel helped create is shelled, a
subsequent apology, excuse, and justification issued (usually that it was
being used by "militants"), then little to no evidence substantiating the
attack presented.

The following all share in this tragic history; where the innocent were
massacred, and the assumption that the humanitarian auspices of the UN
could protect non-combatants from Israeli shelling, shattered.

Qana, 1996

The year was 1996 and Israel was only six weeks away from upcoming
elections (sound familiar?). Prime Minister Shimon Peres was expecting a
stiff challenge from Likud's Benjamin Netanyahu. At the time, Israel was
occupying southern Lebanon. Along with its proxy militia, the South
Lebanese Army, they continued to fruitlessly battle Hezbollah despite
their repeated failure to eradicate the group's resistance. What Israel
really needed to do, and has done prior to all its military adventures,
was provoke the enemy enough to elicit a significant response. That
response would then be used as pretext for initiating an all-out assault.

It came on March 30 when an Israeli gunship fired on two men, both
civilians, working on a water tower in Yater, Lebanon, killing both.
Hezbollah retaliated by firing missiles into northern Israel. Then, when a
teenager died after a roadside bomb exploded in the village of Barashit
and Hezbollah again responded with rockets, Peres had what he needed.
Under the pretense of stopping the attacks and protecting the country's
northern border, "Operation Grapes of Wrath" was launched on April 11.

It didn't take long before Israel committed its first wartime atrocity. On
April 18, a UN compound in the southern Lebanese village of Qana, where
more than 800 civilians had sought refuge, was shelled. One hundred and
six civilians were massacred.

Peres said, "We did not know that several hundred people were concentrated
in that camp. It came to us as a bitter surprise". The military claimed it
was due to "incorrect targeting based on erroneous data". That was hard to
believe, however, considering they had long been made aware of the
compound's location. In fact, a UNIFIL soldier filmed a drone and
helicopters flying above the facility at the time of the attack. Tired
allegations that Hezbollah fighters were using civilians as "human
shields" also fell flat.

A UN investigation concluded that: "The pattern of impacts is inconsistent
with a normal overshooting of the declared target (the mortar site) - as
suggested by the Israeli forces; during the shelling, there was a
perceptible shift in the weight of fire from the mortar site to the United
Nations compound"; and it was "unlikely that the shelling of the United
Nations compound was the result of gross technical and/or procedural

The investigation conducted by Amnesty International succinctly stated:
"The IDF intentionally attacked the UN compound. The IDF have failed to
substantiate their claim that the attack was a mistake".

The shifting explanations and excuses the Israelis had offered were solely
for appeasing the international community. They knew their real message
had been delivered.

Jabaliya, 2009

The assault on Gaza, dubbed "Operation Cast Lead" is almost into its
fourth week. It was on Jan. 6, though, that the single largest loss of
life since the beginning of the campaign occurred. Not surprisingly, it
was another UN facility that was targeted. This time it was the Al-Fakhura
girls school located in the Jabaliya refugee camp north of Gaza City.
Two-hundred eighty families had taken refuge there, numbering 1,674
people. Most came from the town of Beit Lahiya to the north after being
ordered to evacuate by the IDF.

Despite the school flying the distinctive UN flag and its location by GPS
coordinates known, Israeli tank shells struck the school, spraying
shrapnel inside and outside the building. Forty-six people were killed
(including 20 children) and 55 wounded. Paramedics and eyewitnesses
reported seeing "limbs and meat" in the street afterward.

As with Qana, the same justifications for the attack - conducted
"according to procedures" - were put forth by the Israelis and just as
quickly refuted.

It was alleged that Hamas fighters were operating out of the school. John
Ging, director of the UNRWA in Gaza vehemently denied this, saying all
people taking shelter there had been thoroughly vetted and there were "no
military people inside the school; it is fully controlled".

The Israelis then decided to release footage of the purported "militant
gunfire"  coming from the school. But not only did the footage date back
to 2007, it was of a different school, in a different city! (and not run
by the UN).

It was ultimately acknowledged that no shooting came from there. According
to Gunness:

"In briefings senior officers conducted for foreign diplomats, they
admitted the shelling to which IDF forces in Jabaliya were responding did
not originate from the school" (Haaretz, 11 Jan 2009).

Many different and often contradictory stories have since been issued by
the Israelis. As before, the underlining message had been effectively

Other UN schools - Al-Shouka, Asma

Al-Shouka school in Rafah and Asma primary school in Gaza City were also
bombed by the Israelis in "Operation Cast Lead". At Asma, three cousins
were killed among the 400 people housed there who had fled fighting to the

So what were the Qana and Jabaliya massacres and the deliberate attack on
Gaza's UN headquarters meant to illustrate?

It is that not only sympathizers, but any civilian located in remote
proximity to Israel's enemies will be targeted. In addition, retribution
will not only be exacted against the UN in general for the countless
resolutions it has levied against Israel, but against the UNRWA
specifically for the body's assistance and advocacy on behalf of
Palestinians. All are extensions of the doctrine of collective punishment,
but with a particularly ominous message for civilians:

There is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. There is not an institution
or organization on earth that will be able to protect you from us.

Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on the Arab and Islamic worlds.
He may be reached at: rbamiri at yahoo dot com.

--------16 of 18--------

Ongoing American Exceptionalism
Peace and Justice Denied
January 16-18, 2009

As Laura and George Bush see their belongings removed for transport to
Texas, most of the world, except Albania, is breathing a collective sigh
of "it couldn't be sooner".

Eight years ago, George W. Bush invaded and occupied the office of the
presidency. Soon, he exploited the events of 9/11, destroying Afghanistan
and Iraq and blackmailing and threatening Pakistan, while ravaging the US,
breaking our military, killing and maiming thousands of US troops, and
slaughtering more than a million Afghan and Iraqi civilians. No Afghan or
Iraqi wedding party has been safe from the US war machine's not-so-smart

The duplicity of the Bush Administration has been breathtaking, one
outrage after another, battering, with rapidity, our senses and
consciences. "We do not torture," George said. But Dick Cheney willingly,
proudly, and defiantly has admitted what was already obvious. Pictures can
be photoshopped but those from Abu Ghraib were not. Waterboarding and
rendition, or whatever it takes, have been the ordered electives with
approval from Congressional Republicans and key Democrats like Nancy

With a complicit Congress, Bush has mocked our Constitution and the Geneva
Convention, immune, so far, from prosecution for crimes not unlike those
committed during the Spanish Inquisition. The values in which most of us
believe have been soiled. Everything Bush has touched is filthy.

Enter Barack Obama who is unlikely to hold Bush/CheneyCo. accountable.
Instead, as president, Obama seems to prefer filing the criminal acts in a
folder labeled Forgive and Forget.

He would be wise to follow through with his promise of change, starting
with Israel's massacre of the Palestinian people.

As I write, more than 1000 Gazan Palestinians have been slaughtered. A
third of the dead are children. By the time Barack Obama takes the oath of
office, the death count will be even higher. His tepid response to the
butchery is: "When you see civilians, whether Palestinian or Israeli,
harmed, under hardship, it's heartbreaking". No condemnation from Obama
for Israel's savagery, the bloody bodies of Palestinian babies, or the
Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. Because criticism of Israel
is taboo.

During the campaign for the presidency, Joe Biden said you don't have to
be Jewish to be a Zionist. Clearly, what you do have to be is president of
the United States, vice president of the United States, running for either
office, a majority of Congress, or heartless and conscienceless.

So utterly horrendous, as censurable as imperialism and
neoconservatism/Zionism, is our unconditional allegiance to Israel, a
relationship that's psychotic in its dysfunction.

We give Israel billions of dollars annually. Some of this money is, then,
sent to AIPAC to be donated to the political campaigns of useful US
political candidates. A large amount of the billions goes to the purchase
of sophisticated weaponry from our country for Israel to use against
Palestinians who have the audacity to demand the right to a dignified
existence. With affirmation from the United States, Israel continues its
military occupation, shunting the Palestinians to areas barricaded from
the flow of food, water, electricity, and medicine thus creating a
humanitarian catastrophe. And, then, at will, Israel fires on schools,
homes, hospitals, and the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and
Works Agency while the world, excluding Zionists, watches in horror.

Barack Obama subscribes to American exceptionalism. He told New York Times
columnist Roger Cohen:

Our exceptionalism must be based on our Constitution, our principles, our
values and our ideals. We are at our best when we are speaking in a voice
that captures the aspirations of people across the globe.

He's right. There's no doubt we inspire people across the globe--our
conquest-oriented foreign policy has provoked scorn, hatred and terrorism.
Exceptionalism can be exceptionally negative. Still, despite world
opinion, our elected officials place our nation on a pedestal, elevated to
an honorable stature to which other countries should strive, even though
we are anything but honorable. Our human rights violations are glaring,
our self-righteousness is nauseating, our greed is conspicuous, and our
hypocrisy is egregious.

As long as peace and justice for the men, women, and children of Palestine
are denied by the governments of Israel and the United States, none of us
should believe in peace and justice for ourselves.

Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She's written for National Public
Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush
Administration and the war in Iraq, she's a member of Gold Star Families
for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her
nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,'05, she
has been writing political articles. She can be reached at:
Missybeat [at]

--------17 of 18--------

An African-American in Gaza
The United Nations Equals Zero
January 16-18, 2009
For C. M. Naim.

UN-Shmum ([Israeli slang] United Nations =Zero).

Israeli contempt for the United Nations begins in the 1940s and continues
to this day. On March 29, 1955, the Israeli cabinet sat for six hours,
debating whether to invade the Gaza Strip (then under Egyptian control) to
curtail cross-border attacks. Prime Minister Moshe Sharett pointed out
that the United Nations resolution 181 (1947) created Israel. David
Ben-Gurion, who had recently returned to the Cabinet as Defense Minister,
interrupted him, "No, no, no. Only the daring of the Jews created the
state, and not any oom-shmoom resolution".

Most of Israel's leadership (Moshe Dayan, Shimon Peres, Golda Meir, Yigal
Allon, and even Abba Eban) accepted Ben-Gurion's position; all this long
before the 1975 UN General Assembly resolution which equated Zionism with
racism. That simply provided more fodder for a well-established contempt
for the United Nations within Israel's ruling circles.

When Likud won the elections in 1977, it made hay of the UN resolution on
Zionism. Responding to the first invasion of Lebanon (1978), the UN
created the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) through resolution 425.
The Israeli government brushed this aside, invading the country once more
in 1982, remaining south of the Litani River for the next eighteen years -
in contempt of resolution 509 (1982) which demanded that Israeli forces
"forthwith and unconditionally" withdraw. Prime Minister Menachem Begin
told the Israeli press that the United Nations "cannot be objective"
because "the majority of the UN General Assembly is definitely
anti-Israel, and the majority of the members of the Security Council do
not even maintain diplomatic relations with Israel". The United Nations,
oom-shmoom, does not matter.

The Forgotten Staff.

On July 25, 2006, the Israeli air force struck a UN observation post in
Khiyam, Lebanon. The UN workers at the post called their Israeli contact
number ten times over fourteen bombardments to tell them about the attack.
This went on for six hours. The UN later recovered the bodies of four
peacekeepers from UNTSO (United Nations Truce Supervision Organization).
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called the attack "apparently deliberate"
which raised the goat of Daniel Ayalon, Israel's Ambassador to the US, who
said Annan was being "outrageous". This was not the only incident. Two
other UNIFIL personnel were killed in an IAF airstrike on Tyre on July 26,
and a total of twelve other UN officials were wounded in other incidents,
some having to do with attacks by Hezbollah. Israel's investigation
whitewashed the incident, even as it was admitted that the aircraft fired
precision bombs at the UN post.

Between 2006 and the current assault on Gaza there have been other
incidents of Israeli attack on UN personnel. On May 7, 2008, for instance,
the Israeli military entered the town of New Abasan, east of Khan Yunis,
in Gaza. They blasted their way into a house, killing Wafa Shaker
el-Daghma, a thirty-three year old school teacher who worked with the UN
Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
Her three children (one, age two) were with her at the time. The doctrine
of excessive force is so normal in the Israeli armed forces that this
death brought hardly a rebuke. The UN made its noises, and the human
rights groups complained about the violation of Article 33 of the Fourth
Geneva Convention (against collective punishment) - but Tel Aviv smirked.

The current war takes the contempt to another level. The general
violations against the civilian population are so great that the UN
Special Reapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Richard
Falk, pointed out that the Israeli regime has seriously violated
international law through its action of collective punishment, its
targeting of civilians and its disproportionate military response. This is
a "humanitarian catastrophe," said Falk on December 27. Things have got
worse since then. On January 8, an Israeli tank fired at a UN convoy,
killing one driver. The convoy's route had been coordinated with the
Israeli military to prevent this kind of attack. This came two days after
Israeli armed forces shelled a UN school in the Jabaliya refugee camp.
John Ging, the UNRWA head in Gaza, said, "If [the Israeli government] give
us the clearance to move, it is wholly and totally unacceptable that their
soldiers on the ground are firing on our aid workers". The Red Cross also
pulled out, finding it impossible to get to civilians in need (in the
village of Zeitoun they found four children alive, crawling over dead
bodies of civilians).

On January 14, the Israeli armed forces intensely bombed the UN compound
in Gaza, injuring three and destroying emergency food and medical
supplies. John Ging of UNRWA angrily told the press, "We had a first-hand
experience today in this UN compound of what the poor people of Gaza have
been living with on a daily basis for the last twenty days and nights".
The buildings in the compound caught on fire almost immediately after
being hit, and the fire released a white smoke. "It looked like
phosphorous," said Ging. "It smelled like phosphorus and it burned like
phosphorus". The use of white phosphorus is not technically banned by the
Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (1980) or the Chemical Weapons
Convention (1997), but many still consider the use of this inflammatory
weapon (like napalm) to be immoral. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak
apologized to UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon, saying that the attack was
a "grave mistake". But hours later, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
insinuated that Hamas had attacked from within the compound and that the
strike was deliberate. Ging said that there were no militants inside the
compound, and that UNRWA's liaison with the Israeli army failed to respond
to the several messages sent during the attack.

Palestine is not the only place where UN peace-keepers and civilian staff
get killed. Each year, the UN reports on the loss of life of its personnel
who bravely work in conflict zones. Scholars from the Center for Refugee
and Disaster Studies (Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health)
studied the UN records held by the UN Security Coordinator, the UN
Department of Peacekeeping Operations as well as other humanitarian
agencies, and found that more than two thirds of the workers were killed
in acts of "intentional violence" (this was published in BMJ, July 2000).
During the 1990s, most of the killings took place in Rwanda, Somalia,
Burundi and Afghanistan - places where the "host government" no longer
functions effectively, where extreme chaos means that the rule of law is
no longer operational. The Israeli attacks are of a different order. Here
we have a member of the UN, who armies are under civilian control,
nevertheless quite flagrantly assaulting UN positions. It is not one
incident or another, but a pattern of disregard for the UN and for its
employees, whom Kofi Annan called "the forgotten staff".

Bunche's Peace Army.

On June 14, 1947, Ralph Bunche arrived in Palestine. Born into an African
American family of great talents, Bunche went to UCLA and Harvard, did
innovative research on French colonialism and African anti-colonialism. A
job at Howard did not detain him, as he was quickly taken into the United
Nations, where the Secretary General hastened to send him to help the
Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) figure out what to do with the
British (who governed the mandate), the Jews (whose numbers had begun to
increase through migration from Europe and elsewhere) and the Palestinians
(who had begun to be displaced from their ancestral homelands). Bunche was
startled by the atmosphere of Jerusalem, "British are everywhere and they
all carry guns. As you go thru the streets you're constantly stopped by
sentries and control centers and required to show your pass. Buildings are
surrounded by barbed wire, pillboxes and road-blocks are abundant". Bunche
and UNSCOP had to navigate between the divergent opinions of the centrist
Chaim Weizmann and the terrorists such as Menachem Begin, between the
British and the Palestinians. Things were not easy. Two weeks into the
work, Bunche wrote in his diary, "One thing seems sure, this problem can't
be solved on the basis of abstract justice, historical or otherwise.
Reality is that both Arabs and Jews are here and intend to stay.
Therefore, in any "solution" some group, or at least its claim, is bound
to get hurt. Danger in any arrangement is that a caste system will develop
with backward Arabs as the lower caste".

UNSCOP played an important role in moving the British out of the equation,
a fact that Ben Gurion disputed in later years. The British left in May
1948, and civil war greeted the creation of the state of Israel. The UN's
main person, Count Folke Bernadotte moved swiftly to negotiate a
cease-fire. The UN Security Council passed a resolution to this effect.
Ben Gurion and his cabinet averred. They wanted the military advantage.
But Bernadotte was firm. The cease-fire came into effect on June 11, and
Bunche and his team or UN irregulars created a rag-tag group of
peace-keepers (they hastily painted their cars white, with UN written in
large black letters - this has been the custom since). Bunche and
Bernadotte pulled teeth to keep the cease-fire in operation. Bernadotte
wrote a report on the situation, challenging the international community
to see whether it "is willing to tolerate resort to armed force as the
means for settlement of the Palestine issue". Driving in Jerusalem on
September 17, Count Bernadotte, the UN's man in Palestine, was
assassinated by members of the Stern Gang. Bernadotte's assassination was
authorized by the troika that ran the Stern Gang: Yitzhak Yernitsky, who
was later known as Yitzhak Shamir, later prime minister of Israel,
1983-84; Nathan Friedman-Yellin, who was later known as Nathan Yellin-Mor,
became a pacifist in his last years; Israel Sheib, who was later known as
Israel Eldad, remained a committed right-wing nationalist, whose funeral
in 1996 was attended by prime ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Yitzhak
Shamir, and Knesset Speaker Dov Shilansky. The stick man was Yehoshua
Cohen, who later became a close friend of Ben Gurion. Cohen is a
celebrated figure in many quarters (he has his hagiography, The Prince of
Jerusalem, published in 2006, written by Ofer Regev). Bunche took charge,
and forced a cease-fire by early 1949. The next year, Bunche won the Nobel
Peace Prize, the first person of African descent to be so honored.

In Oslo, in his talk, Bunche offered a vision for the United Nations, "In
the final analysis, the acid test of a genuine will to peace is the
willingness of disputing parties to expose their differences to the
peaceful processes of the United Nations and to the bar of international
public opinion which the United Nations reflects. It is only in this way
that truth, reason, and justice may come to prevail over the shrill and
blatant voice of propaganda; that a wholesome international morality can
be cultivated". This was a view disregarded by Tel Aviv, who, in 1967
involved itself in hostilities to Bunche's distress. He worried then that
"Israel's great military success is bound to reinforce the traditional
position of that country that the relations between Israel and her Arab
neighbors should be left to direct negotiations and arrangements without
any third party (i. e. the UN) intervention". This was prescient, as we
see after the entry of Likud into 3, Kaplan Street in Jerusalem.

In 1951, Bunche gave a lecture at the National War College entitled
"Review and Appraisal of Israeli-Arab Relations". It is a conscientious
lecture, with Bunche's emotions leaking in only once: "The real victims of
this whole conflict -- and they have been successively at each stage more
victimized -- have been the Arabs of Palestine. They are the ones who have
suffered. The Jews have not greatly suffered as a result of the conflict.
In fact, they are better off today than they were before it began. The
peoples of the surrounding Arab states have not suffered from the
conflict. It has all been taken out of the hides of the Arabs of
Palestine". And it continues to be so. A thousand dead does not arouse the
vocal cords of the new president, the first person of African descent to
this job, whose commitment to Israel's security over all else once more
undermines any UN resolution.

On January 15, 2009, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon met with Israel's
Foreign Minister, and aspirant to the Prime Minister's office, Tzipi
Livni. Ban Ki-Moon almost begged Israel to abide by the milquetoast UN
resolution 1860, drafted by the United Kingdom and passed by the Security
Council 14-0 (with the U. S. abstaining). Livni disregarded his plea. "In
Israel, we are doing our own assessment on a daily basis," she said, "and
we will decide when to stop based on this assessment". Oom-shmoom

Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian
History and Director of International Studies at Trinity College,
Hartford, CT His new book is The Darker Nations: A People's History of the
Third World, New York: The New Press, 2007. He can be reached at:
vijay.prashad [at]

--------18 of 18--------

 US capital
 moves to Jerusalem; Prez
 says, What's not to like?


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
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