Progressive Calendar 03.17.09
From: David Shove (
Date: Tue, 17 Mar 2009 06:10:26 -0700 (PDT)
           P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    03.17.09

1. Vs foreclosure    3.17 4pm
2. RNC aftermath/CTV 3.17 5pm
3. RNC court watch   3.17 6pm
4. KFAI/MN Muslims   3.17 6pm
5. Salon/St Paddy's  3.17 6:30pm
6. StPat dance/CSPS  3.17 7pm
7. StPat dance/Frnds 3.17 7pm
8. Frontline         3.17 9pm

9. Bridge vigil      3.18 5pm

10. Robert Freeman - The US is facing a Weimar moment
11. Ben Ehrenreich - Zionism is the problem
12. Death By Guiness
13. The Accident
14. Lost At Sea
15. St Patrick

--------1 of 15--------

From: Todd Heintz <proud2liveinjordan [at]>
Subject: Vs foreclosure 3.17 4pm

Meet Tuesday 3/17 and/or Wednesday 3/18 at 4pm at the Mpls Urban League and
you'll be paired with another volunteer, given a brief training and
materials, and then you'll knock on some doors and make sure that residents
know about free, HUD-certified foreclosure prevention counseling that could
help them stay in their homes! This is our third time and we always have
many good interactions with people who appreciate the info.

Host: Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition
Start Time: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 4:00pm
End Time: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 at 6:00pm
Location: Minneapolis Urban League Van White Room
Street: 2100 Plymouth Ave N.
City/Town: Minneapolis, MN

For information:
Phone: 6128677118
Email: david [at]

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

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: RNC aftermath/CTV 3.17 5pm

Significant St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) viewers:
"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on SPNN Channel 15 on Tuesdays at 5pm,
midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am, after DemocracyNow!  All
households with basic cable may watch.

Tues, 3/17, 5pm & midnight and Wed, 3/18, 10am
Solidarity: First the Streets, Then the Courts

Community RNC Arrestee Support Structure (C*R*A*S*S) activists Joe
Robinhood and Melissa speak about the aftermath of arrests made during the
2008 Republican National Convention.  Although the RNC is history, there
are several outstanding cases that are still proceeding through the system
including the high profile case of the RNC 8.  Hosted by Eric Angell.

--------3 of 15--------

From: Do'ii <syncopatingrhythmsabyss [at]>
Subject: RNC court watch 3.17 6pm

RNC Court Watchers are in need of participants to help with organizing
court information, documentation and etc.  RNC Court Watchers Meetings are
every Tuesday, 6 P.M. at Caffeto's. Below is announcement for our

Preemptive raids, over 800 people arrested, police brutality on the
streets and torture in Ramsey County Jail. Police have indiscriminately
used rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tasers and chemical irritants to
disperse crowds and incapacitate peaceful, nonviolent protesters. The
RNC-8 and others are facing felonies and years in jail. We must fight this
intimidation, harassment and abuse!

Join the RNC Court Solidarity Meeting this coming Tuesday at Caffetto's to
find out how you can make a difference in the lives of many innocent

Caffetto's Coffeehouse and Gallery (612)872-0911 708 W 22nd Street,
Minneapolis, MN 55405
Every Tuesday @ 6:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M
participate and help organize RNC court solidarity.
For more information, please contact: rnccourtwatch [at]

--------4 of 15--------

From: "Ahndi Fridell" <ahndifridell [at]>
Subject: KFAI/MN Muslims 3.17 6pm

Subject: [Kfai-forum] KFAI News Presents Muslims in Minnesota Radio

KFAI News launches a month-long series Tuesday, March 10, 2009, exploring
what it means to be Muslim in Minnesota. This series compiles stories
ranging from controversial to inspiring. Listeners will hear how a Muslim
immigrant struggles with questions of identity, law and faith after getting
arrested for a crime and facing possible deportation. One story shows how
some women are creating their own definition of feminism. Still another
story asks what drives Minnesota Hip Hop artists who intertwine their faith
with the pounding beats and steady rhythms of their art form.  Some of the
stories are produced by Muslim reporters who bring their own perspectives
and insights to their work.

"Muslims in Minnesota" began March 10, and will continue every Tuesday,
Wednesday and Thursday at 6pm during the KFAI Evening News, 90.3FM,
Minneapolis and 106.7FM, St. Paul. The stories along with pictures,
additional insights and links to helpful information will be found online

Muslims in Minnesota series on KFAI
March 17 - Empowered Muslim Women
March 18 - In Search of the Minnesotan Muslim
March 19 - Muslim Immigrants Learn English
March 24 - Music and Sufi Islam in the Twin Cities
March 25 - Muslim Burial Traditions
March 26 - The Line Between Mosque and State

The Muslims in Minnesota series is produced in cooperation with the
University of Minnesota's Institute for Global Studies.
KFAI Radio broadcasts on 90.3 FM in Minneapolis and 106.7 FM in Saint Paul.

--------5 of 15--------

From: patty <pattypax [at]>
Subject: Salon/St Paddy's 3.17 6:30pm

Since the salon is on St Paddy's Day, we will celebrate w/stories, poems,
songs, green beer (kiddin') and what else you want.  If you have poems,
music or food you want to share, bring it and we'll just celebrate being
Irish or wannabe Irish.

Pax Salons ( )
are held (unless otherwise noted in advance):
Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Mad Hatter's Tea House,
943 W 7th, St Paul, MN

Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats.
Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.

--------6 of 15--------

From: mnfolkfestival [at]
Subject: StPat dance/CSPS 3.17 7pm

St. Patrick's Day Irish Ceili Dance
Tuesday, March 17
19th Annual Irish Ceili Dance
CSPS Hall - St. Paul, MN
383 Michigan Avenue, St. Paul, MN
(near St. Clair Avenue just off of West 7th Street)

Music: Barra (
Dance Instruction: Ann Wiberg

7 p.m. - $9.50 at the door. Seniors, 62+, and children 6 to 16 are $4.75,
children under 5 are free.
(near St. Clair Avenue just off of West 7th Street)

All the dances are taught and beginners are welcome. Beverages (soda,
water, beer) and desserts will be available. annual Irish dance for St.
Patrick's Day. This is probably the largest Irish dance that takes place
all year and it's at the CSPS Hall, a historic vaudeville hall built around
the turn of the century with a wonderful wood dance floor. CSPS stands for
Czeck-Slovakian?Preservation Society and they've done a?wonderful job of
taking care of this great building.?

Sponsored by the Minnesota Folk Arts Alliance
For more info:? 651-357-0400

--------7 of 15--------

From: Mike Whelan <mpw4883 [at]>
Subject: StPat dance/Friends 3.17 7pm

Saint Patrick's Day Ceili Dance
Presented by Lóma mór Irish Dance Club
Tuesday, March 17, 7 to 10 PM
Twin Cities Friends Meeting Hall
1729 Grand Avenue in Saint Paul

Music by:
Paddy O'Brien and Dáithí Sproule
Two of the world's most renowned Irish traditional musicians
Dances taught and called by Paul McCluskey of Lóma mór Irish Dance Club

$8 per person, $4 seniors (62+) and students, children 5 and under free.
Refreshments and snacks available for sale.
Come to dance.
Come to listen.
Come to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day at a family-friendly, alcohol-free
beautiful gathering place.

--------8 of 15--------

From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at]>
Subject: Frontline 3.17 9pm

RONTLINE Bulletin wrote:

- This Week: "Living Old" (60 minutes),
 March 17th at 9pm on PBS (Check local listings)

This week, as President Obama attempts to move forward with major health
care reform, and increasing numbers of Americans struggle to provide for
their aging relatives in a down economy, FRONTLINE is rebroadcasting
"Living Old" - a poignant exploration into the lives of the elderly. For
the first time in our history, "the old old" - those over 85 - are now
the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population.

"We're on the threshold of the first-ever mass geriatric society," warns
Dr. Leon Kass, the former chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics.
"The bad news is that the price that many people are going to be paying for
[an] extra decade of healthy longevity is up to another decade of anything
but healthy longevity. ... We've not yet begun to face up to what this
means in human terms."

Reckoning with the staggering impact of prolonged life is exactly what
producers Miri Navasky and Karen O'Connor attempt in this film: Through an
intimate examination of the modern realities of aging - from the
perspectives of the elderly, their families, and the doctors and nurses
caring for them - they paint a picture of a world that will ultimately
touch us all.

We hope you'll join us for the broadcast Tuesday night. In the meantime,
visit our Web site to sample the full program streamed online, read the
press reaction, and also sample some of the hundreds of letters we've
received about this film.

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

From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at]>
Subject: Bridge vigil 3.18 5pm

This week marks the 6 year anniversary of the war on the people of Iraq.

Peace Vigil:  Protest Against 6 Years of War on Iraq
Wednesday, March 18 @ 5pm @ Lake/Marshall Bridge
Stand with other people committed to peace in Iraq.  This is the new time
for the vigil until the fall. Organized by the Twin Cities Peace Campaign.

-------10 of 15--------

The US Is Facing a Weimar Moment
by Robert Freeman
Published on Sunday, March 15, 2009 by

In early 1919, Germany put in place a new government to begin rebuilding
the country after its crushing defeat in World War I. But the right-wing
forces that had led the country into the War and lost the War conspired
even before it was over to destroy the new government, the "Weimar
Republic." They succeeded.

The U.S. faces a similar "Weimar Moment." The devastating collapse of the
economy after eight years of Republican rule has left the leadership,
policies, and ideology of the right utterly discredited. But, as was the
case with Germany in 1919, Republicans do not intend to allow the new
government to succeed. They will do everything they can to undermine it.
If they are successful, the U.S. may yet go the way of Weimar Germany.

World War I left Germany utterly devastated. The landed aristocrats,
industrial magnates, wealthy financiers, weapons makers, and the officer
corps of the military that formed the locus of right wing power were
completely discredited. Their failure in provoking and prosecuting the War
was catastrophic, undeniable, and complete.

The economy was destroyed. Prices were at 800% of pre-war levels and
rising quickly. Agriculture, pillaged for the War, lay in ruins. Social
insurance payments for the War's injured, to widows and orphans, and newly
unemployed soldiers were astronomical. And all this was before the cost of
rebuilding was even begun.

At the same time, Germany faced massive reparations payments to the Allied
victors, France and England. But Germany's foreign properties had been
confiscated and its colonies turned over to the victors. The combination
of these conditions, both domestic and international, made it
extraordinarily difficult for the German economy to recover.

As a result of the failure of the right, the German people elected a
moderately leftist government to lead the nation's rebuilding. It was
named the Weimar Republic for the city in which the new post-imperial
constitution was written. The new government was led by Friedrich Ebert,
head of the German Socialist Party.

But the country's new parliamentary system had allowed dozens of parties
to run, making it impossible for any one party to win an outright
majority. Ebert's party had achieved the highest portion of votes, 38%, in
the first post-War elections, held in January 1919. Ebert would have to
govern by coalition.

It was at this time that the right wing made its crucial decision. Despite
its shocking, naked failure over the prior decade, despite the horrific
devastation it had wrought on the German people, despite the discrediting
of everything they had purported to stand for, they would fight Ebert, his
new government, and its plans for recovery. They would do everything they
could to make sure that the new government failed.

Their strategy was two-fold: first, stoke the resentment of the population
about the calamitous state of its living conditions - no matter that those
conditions had been created by the very right-wing oligarchs who now
pretended to befriend the little guy. Rage is rage. It is glandular and
unseeing. Once catalyzed it is easy to turn on any subject.

And stoking resentment was easy to do. Just before the War ended, the
military concocted its most sensational lie: the German army hadn't
actually been defeated. It had been "stabbed in the back" by communists,
traitors, and Jews. It was an easy lie to sell. It entwined an attack on
an alien political ideology - liberalism- with the latent, pervasive myth
of German racial superiority.

The second strategy of the right was to prevent the new government from
succeeding. To begin with, success of the left would conspicuously
advertise the failure of the right. Moreover, success by the left would
legitimize republican government, so hated by the oligarchs of the right.
Much better for the people to be ruled by the self-aggrandizing right-wing
autocracy that had governed Germany for centuries.

So the rightists set out to do everything they could to make it impossible
for the leftists to govern. They would use parliamentary maneuver,
shifting coalitions, domination of the new mass media, legislative
obstruction, staged public relations spectacles, relentless pressure by
narrow but powerful interests, judicial intimidation and, eventually,
outright murder of their political opponents.

Contrition for their abject failure, humility for their destructive
hubris, compassion for their crippled country - those had nothing to do
with it. All they possessed was a blinding, visceral hatred of the left
and a masturbatory lust for the return to power.

Eventually, they succeeded. Every setback in recovery - and there would
inevitably be many - was met with hysterical demonizing of the left wing
government. The lie was repeated relentlessly that the government was run
by communists, traitors, and Jews - the same furtive cabal that had
purportedly stabbed the country in the back at the end of the War. They
steadily chipped away at the efficacy and, thereby, the legitimacy of
successive republican governments.

By the time of the Great Depression, Adolph Hitler's ironically named
National Socialist Party had become the biggest vote getter in the nation.
The Nazis had once been derided as the lunatic fringe of the far right.
But the "respectable" right-wing power brokers who had started and lost
the Great War anointed Hitler Chancellor in January, 1933.

He immediately suspended the constitution, abolishing most civil
liberties. He outlawed opposition parties, began a massive military
build-up and a relentless propaganda campaign, and set Germany and the
world onto the path of the greatest destruction it would ever know.

America now faces its own "Weimar moment."

The failure of right wing policy and leadership over the past eight years,
especially in matters economic, is comparable to Germany's right-wing
failure in World War I. It is catastrophic, undeniable, and complete.


According to the World Economic Forum, forty percent of the entire world's
wealth has been destroyed in the recent financial collapse. In the U.S.
alone, between housing and the stock market, more than $18 trillion in
wealth has already been destroyed.

The private mega-banks that anchor the financial systems of the western
world are bankrupt. This makes it all but impossible to jump-start the
western world's economies which are heavily dependent on bank-system
credit to operate.

More than 10,000 homes go into foreclosure every day. More than 20,000
people lose their job every day. And the collapse is accelerating,
developing its own self-reinforcing dynamic. Job losses breed
foreclosures, reducing demand, leading to more job losses and further
degradation of the financial system. None of the stopgaps designed to
stanch the bleeding have yet worked. There is no bottom in sight.

Meanwhile, debt has risen to astronomical levels. Reagan and Bush I
quadrupled the national debt in only twelve years. Bush II doubled it
again in only eight. It is now ten times higher than it was in 1980 when
Reagan was elected. Total public and private debt exceeds 300% of GDP,
half again higher than it was in 1929.

The government's unfunded liabilities, promises it has made to the
American people but for which no payment source can be identified, now
exceed $60 trillion, a literally inconceivable sum that can never, will
never, be paid. Federal Reserve economist Lawrence Kotlikoff has suggested
that the U.S. government is "actuarially bankrupt."

The full measure of the nation's plight is revealed in Hillary Clinton's
first trip as Secretary of State. It was to China, to beg them to fund
Obama's new fiscal deficits. Without loans from China, the U.S. economy
cannot be revived. The significance of this cannot be overstated: the U.S.
no longer exercises sovereignty over its own economic affairs. That
sovereignty now resides in the hands of China, the U.S.'s greatest
long-term rival.

Thanks to Republican policies of massive debt and shipping jobs abroad,
the U.S. has technically become a colony of China. It exports raw
materials and imports finished goods, together with the capital to make up
the difference. Should the Chinese decide not to lend the trillions of
dollars the U.S. is begging for, the U.S. economy will implode, plummeting
onto itself in a World Trade Center-like collapse that will leave dust
clouds circling the planet for decades.

Notwithstanding the destruction inflicted on the economy by Republican
policies, the most devastating breakdown is in the intellectual foundation
on which right wing economic ideology itself is premised. Free market
doctrine, the secular religion of right-wing America, is in utter,
irretrievable shambles.

One of the most lofty tenets on which free markets are premised is their
claim for themselves that they are "efficient," that is, that market
prices always reflect "fundamental values" of assets. But if that's true,
how could the world's largest insurance company, AIG, have lost 99.5% of
its market value in only 18 months? How could the world's largest bank,
Citibank, have lost 98% of its value over the same period?

How could the world's largest brokerage company, Merrill Lynch, have gone
bankrupt and need to be bought by Bank of America? How could the world's
largest car company, General Motors, have lost 95% of its value and stand
on the threshold of extinction? How could the world's largest industrial
conglomerate, General Electric, have lost 85% of its value in only 18

If the largest companies in the world, those at the very heart of the
capitalist system itself, can lose virtually all of their value in only 18
months, what is the possible meaning of the phrases "efficient markets"
and "fundamental value"?

The other core tenets of free market ideology are equally compromised.
Major actors are clearly not rational - a breakdown of theological
proportions admitted by no less an avatar of the cult than its pope
himself, Alan Greenspan. Free markets clearly cannot, will not, regulate
themselves. It is precisely their innate, irrepressible propensity for
sociopathic greed and predatory fraud that has brought the whole of the
world's economy to the precipice of collapse.

Free markets clearly do not align risk and reward, allocating capital to
its most productive uses, as its promoters advertise. They clearly do not
automatically return to equilibrium, but must be bailed out with trillions
of dollars of injections from the shrinking coffers of the public to the
ever-bulging coffers of a private priesthood of pillage and plunder.

And in perhaps the greatest indictment of all, one going back to its
primeval roots in Adam Smith's eighteenth century opus, The Wealth of
Nations, the unrestrained behavior of self-interested individuals clearly,
manifestly, does not "coalesce as if by an Invisible Hand to the greatest
good for the greatest number."

These are not peripheral premises that have failed. They are not
tangential tenets. Efficient markets. Rational actors. Market equilibrium.
Risk and reward. Self interest. These are the essential sacraments on
which the entire free market system is founded. They are in tatters. And
it isn't that any one of them has been discredited by the glaring,
merciless force of events. All of them have been. All of them together.
And all of them at the same time.

Free markets have long been the basis for a legitimate - though rightly
debated - economic policy framework. But they have become little more than
a robotically-recited cultural catechism, a mindless mantra mumbled to
mask the looting of the nation's resources that is the true purpose of
Republican economic policy as demonstrated by the staggering upward
transfers of wealth that inevitably occur under Republican regimes. A more
complete, conspicuous, catastrophic, and irrefutable repudiation of right
wing leaders, right wing policies, and right wing ideology could not
possibly be contrived.

So what is the right wing response?

They have adopted the strategy and tactics of the failed right wing
plotters in Weimar Germany. First, stoke the resentment of the population
about the increasingly dire state of its living conditions - no matter
that those conditions were created by the very right-wing oligarchs who
now pretend to befriend the little guy. Rage is rage. It is glandular and
unseeing. Once catalyzed it is easy to turn on any subject.

Second, prevent the new government from succeeding in any meaningful
endeavor. The Republicans have set all their efforts to doing everything
they can to make sure the Obama administration fails. Rush Limbaugh's
infamous, "I hope he fails" pronouncement is only the beginning of the
fomenting of hatred from the right. As Limbaugh said, "Let's be honest.
Every Republican in America is hoping for Obama's failure."

The same malignant hope oozes unadulterated from all the other Dogpatch
Demagogues that rent themselves out to the Republican party to foment
resentment against anything liberal: Joe the "Plumber," Rick Santelli,
Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Ann Coulter, and virtually every other
wing-nut operative whose intellectual stock in trade has been vaporized by
the collision of right-wing policies with objective reality.

Equally so for the "respectable" members of the party, the all-but-three
Republican members of Congress who refused to sign on to Obama's first
stimulus package and continue to grandstand against every effort toward
any form of progress. Contrition for their own abject failure, humility
for their destructive hubris, compassion for their crippled country-those
have nothing to do with it. All they possess is a blinding, visceral
hatred of the left and a masturbatory lust for the return to power.

And what else can they do? Bereft of ideas, bankrupt in ideology,
architects of collapse, obstruction is all they have. If Obama is
successful, it will not only advertise the full extent of their failure,
it will provide a model of liberal governance that would render
Republicans irrelevant for decades, much as FDR's success left them out in
the political cold for an entire generation. Liberal failure is a matter
of life and death for Republicans.

And it's not at all clear that the liberals won't fail. No one should
underestimate the task at hand. Never before - not even during the Great
Depression - has the country inherited such a daunting, intractable set of
economic problems: a debt burden so crushing; inequality so vast; a loss
of financial sovereignty so constricting; an intellectual edifice so
bankrupt; a private economy so uncompetitive; or an opposition so
callously self interested in its own recovery and so cavalierly
disinterested in the nation's.

The economy has been so damaged, successful rescue requires threading a
series of policy needles, each of them so complex in their own right that
none could be solved by any administration of the past 50 years. This
includes rehabilitating and re-regulating the nation's banking system,
restructuring health care, reducing national dependence on oil, reviving
manufacturing so as to reduce the trade deficit, rebuilding the nation's
crumbling infrastructure, dealing with a soaring national debt, trying to
resuscitate a collapsing housing market, and all the while maintaining the
safety net under 77 million baby boomers entering retirement with a net
worth 60% what it was only 18 months ago.

Success will require much more than luck, hard work, brilliant policy, or
soaring rhetoric. It will require cooperation and contribution from every
American. It is those two offerings, cooperation and contribution, that
Republicans are intent on withholding, the better to ensure Obama's
failure. Simply put, the Republicans hate Democrats more than they love

If they succeed in derailing Obama's efforts, the cost will be

After World War I, one of the consequences of the liberal government's
failure was Adolph Hitler. Hitler had a genius for exploiting the
resentment of the German people for their condition. More than 80% of the
Nazi party's members were unemployed. It was these legions of idle thugs
who made up the ranks of Hitler's brownshirt militia, the SA. The right
wing oligarchy that had set out from the beginning to destroy the Weimar
Republic recognized the potency of resentment and Hitler's genius at
exploiting it. It was they who sponsored Hitler's ascension to Chancellor
in 1933.

Resentment and obstruction are all the right wing in America have to
peddle. Their policies are utterly discredited. Their ideology - even by
its own standards - is a sham. They are so bereft of leaders, their de
facto leader is a former drug addicted, thrice-divorced radio talk show
host. That is literally the best they can muster. But they have built a
national franchise inciting the downwardly mobile to blame the government,
not the right, for their problems, exactly as Hitler did in the 1920s.

The Republican propensity for fascism must not be underestimated. Witness
their phony justifications for the war in Iraq, fanning the flames of
nationalistic aggression, just as Hitler did with Austria, the
Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, and Poland in the 1930s. Consider their
symbiotic embrace of corporate interests in the oil, weapons,
telecommunications, pharmaceutical, finance, and other industries - the
same type of corporate interests that sponsored Hitler's ascent to power.
Look at their efforts to dismantle civil liberties with the Patriot Act
and the Military Commissions Act. Or their relentless, pervasive
propaganda laundered through their corporate-owned right-wing media

These are the classic hallmarks of fascism. The strategy is to obstruct
recovery, facilitate collapse, and then incite the faux-populism of public
resentment to re-install a corporatist oligarchy which has failed, but
which will not abide a reduction of its privileges or a diminution of its
control. It is a fetid, seditious agenda, awaiting only its own latter day
mustachioed messiah for its final fulfillment.

World War I was a once-in-a-millennium upset in the architecture of global
power. In four years, it shifted the center of that power from Europe to
the United States. But failure now by the U.S. will shift that center once
again, from the United States to China, out of the western world where it
has resided for the past 500 years. The psychic shock to the billion-odd
people living in western civilization, with its liberal democracies,
capitalist economies, and Enlightenment ideals, will be incalculable,

This shift may be inevitable and only a matter of time. It is quite
possible that the damage inflicted on the western world's economy by
rapacious Republicans is already beyond repair. But it will be tragedy
beyond measure if such a shift is consummated by the very wrecking crew
that took us down the road to ruin, all the while so unctuously
proclaiming "patriotism" as its crowning ideal. They are not patriots and
their goal is not the revival of American power. It is the revival of
their own power, even at the expense of America's. They represent a very
dangerous threat to the nation's future.

Robert Freeman writes on history, economics and education. He can be
reached at robertfreeman10 [at]

--------11 of 15--------

Zionism is the Problem
The Zionist ideal of a Jewish state is keeping Israelis and Palestinians
from living in peace.
by Ben Ehrenreich
Published on Monday, March 16, 2009 by The Los Angeles Times
Common Dreams

It's hard to imagine now, but in 1944, six years after Kristallnacht,
Lessing J. Rosenwald, president of the American Council for Judaism, felt
comfortable equating the Zionist ideal of Jewish statehood with "the
concept of a racial state - the Hitlerian concept." For most of the last
century, a principled opposition to Zionism was a mainstream stance within
American Judaism.

Even after the foundation of Israel, anti-Zionism was not a particularly
heretical position. Assimilated Reform Jews like Rosenwald believed that
Judaism should remain a matter of religious rather than political
allegiance; the ultra-Orthodox saw Jewish statehood as an impious attempt
to "push the hand of God"; and Marxist Jews - my grandparents among them
- tended to see Zionism, and all nationalisms, as a distraction from the
more essential struggle between classes.

To be Jewish, I was raised to believe, meant understanding oneself as a
member of a tribe that over and over had been cast out, mistreated,
slaughtered. Millenniums of oppression that preceded it did not entitle us
to a homeland or a right to self-defense that superseded anyone else's. If
they offered us anything exceptional, it was a perspective on oppression
and an obligation born of the prophetic tradition: to act on behalf of the
oppressed and to cry out at the oppressor.

For the last several decades, though, it has been all but impossible to
cry out against the Israeli state without being smeared as an anti-Semite,
or worse. To question not just Israel's actions, but the Zionist tenets on
which the state is founded, has for too long been regarded an almost
unspeakable blasphemy.

Yet it is no longer possible to believe with an honest conscience that the
deplorable conditions in which Palestinians live and die in Gaza and the
West Bank come as the result of specific policies, leaders or parties on
either side of the impasse. The problem is fundamental: Founding a modern
state on a single ethnic or religious identity in a territory that is
ethnically and religiously diverse leads inexorably either to politics of
exclusion (think of the 139-square-mile prison camp that Gaza has become)
or to wholesale ethnic cleansing. Put simply, the problem is Zionism.

It has been argued that Zionism is an anachronism, a leftover ideology
from the era of 19th century romantic nationalisms wedged uncomfortably
into 21st century geopolitics. But Zionism is not merely outdated. Even
before 1948, one of its basic oversights was readily apparent: the
presence of Palestinians in Palestine. That led some of the most prominent
Jewish thinkers of the last century, many of them Zionists, to balk at the
idea of Jewish statehood. The Brit Shalom movement - founded in 1925 and
supported at various times by Martin Buber, Hannah Arendt and Gershom
Scholem - argued for a secular, binational state in Palestine in which
Jews and Arabs would be accorded equal status. Their concerns were both
moral and pragmatic. The establishment of a Jewish state, Buber feared,
would mean "premeditated national suicide."

The fate Buber foresaw is upon us: a nation that has lived in a state of
war for decades, a quarter-million Arab citizens with second-class status
and more than 5 million Palestinians deprived of the most basic political
and human rights. If two decades ago comparisons to the South African
apartheid system felt like hyperbole, they now feel charitable. The white
South African regime, for all its crimes, never attacked the Bantustans
with anything like the destructive power Israel visited on Gaza in
December and January, when nearly 1,300 Palestinians were killed,
one-third of them children.

Israeli policies have rendered the once apparently inevitable two-state
solution less and less feasible. Years of Israeli settlement construction
in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have methodically diminished the
viability of a Palestinian state. Israel's new prime minister, Benjamin
Netanyahu, has even refused to endorse the idea of an independent
Palestinian state, which suggests an immediate future of more of the same:
more settlements, more punitive assaults.

All of this has led to a revival of the Brit Shalom idea of a single,
secular binational state in which Jews and Arabs have equal political
rights. The obstacles are, of course, enormous. They include not just a
powerful Israeli attachment to the idea of an exclusively Jewish state,
but its Palestinian analogue: Hamas' ideal of Islamic rule. Both sides
would have to find assurance that their security was guaranteed. What
precise shape such a state would take - a strict, vote-by-vote democracy
or a more complex federalist system - would involve years of painful
negotiation, wiser leaders than now exist and an uncompromising commitment
from the rest of the world, particularly from the United States.

Meanwhile, the characterization of anti-Zionism as an "epidemic" more
dangerous than anti-Semitism reveals only the unsustainability of the
position into which Israel's apologists have been forced. Faced with
international condemnation, they seek to limit the discourse, to erect
walls that delineate what can and can't be said.

It's not working. Opposing Zionism is neither anti-Semitic nor
particularly radical. It requires only that we take our own values
seriously and no longer, as the book of Amos has it, "turn justice into
wormwood and hurl righteousness to the ground."

Establishing a secular, pluralist, democratic government in Israel and
Palestine would of course mean the abandonment of the Zionist dream. It
might also mean the only salvation for the Jewish ideals of justice that
date back to Jeremiah.

2009 The Los Angeles Times
Ben Ehrenreich is the author of the novel "The Suitors."

--------12 of 15--------

From: Kenneth Kuller <kenneth.kuller [at]>
 [Assisted by Patty O'Furniture]
Subject: Death By Guiness  (A St. Patrick's Day Joke)

Katie O'Malley is home as usual, making dinner, when Tim Finnegan arrives
at her door. "Katie, may I come in?" he asks. "I've somethin' to tell ya."

"Of course, you can come in, you're always welcome, Tim. But where's my

"That's what I'm here to be tellin' ya, Katie. There was an accident down
at the Guinness Brewery. . . ."

"Oh, God, no!" cries Katie. "Please, don't tell me. . . ."

"I must, Katie. Your husband Sean is dead and gone. I'm so sorry."

Katie reached a hand out to her side, found the arm of the rocking chair
by the fireplace, pulled the chair to her and collapsed into it. She wept
for many minutes. Finally she looked up at Tim. "How did it happen, Tim?"

"It was terrible, Katie. He fell into a vat of Guinness Stout and

"Oh my dear Jesus! But you must tell me true, Tim. Did he at least go

"Well, no, Katie . . . no."


"Fact is . . . he got out three times to pee."

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

Subject: The Accident  (A St. Patrick's Day Joke)

Murphy was staggering home with a pint of booze in his back pocket when he
slipped and fell heavily.  Struggling to his feet, he felt something wet
running down his leg.  "Please Lord," he implored, "let it be blood!"

--------14 of 15--------

Subject: Lost At Sea  (A St. Patrick's Day Joke)

Two Irishmen, Patrick and Michael, were adrift in a lifeboat following a
dramatic escape from a burning freighter.  While rummaging through the
boat's provisions, Patrick stumbled across an old lamp.  Secretly hoping
that a genie would appear, he rubbed the lamp vigorously.  To the
amazement of Patrick, a genie came forth.  This particular genie, however,
stated that he could only deliver one wish, not the standard three.

Without giving much thought to the matter, Patrick blurted out, "Make the
entire ocean into Guinness Beer!"  The genie clapped his hands with a
deafening crash, and immediately the entire sea turned into the finest
brew ever sampled by mortals.  Simultaneously, the genie vanished.

Only the gentle lapping of Guinness on the hull broke the stillness as the
two men considered their circumstances.  Michael looked disgustedly at
Patrick whose wish had been granted.  After a long, tension-filled moment,
he spoke: "Nice going Patrick!  Now we're going to have to pee in the

---------15 of 15--------

Subject: St. Patrick  (A St. Patrick's Day Joke)

Three Englishmen were in a bar and spotted an Irishman.  They decided to
have fun with the man.  One of the Englishmen walked over to the Irishman,
tapped him on the shoulder, and said, "Hey, I hear your St. Patrick was a

"Oh really, hmm, didn't know that," said the Irishman.

Puzzled, the Englishman walked back to his buddies.  "I told him St.
Patrick was a girly-man, and he didn't care."  The second Englishman
remarked, "You just don't know how to set him off . . . watch and learn."
So, the second Englishman walked over to the Irishman, tapped him on the
shoulder and said, "Hey, I hear your St. Patrick was a transvestite!"

"Oh really, hmm, didn't know that."

Shocked beyond belief, the Englishman went back to his buddies.  "You're
right.  He's unshakable!"

The third Englishman remarked, "Boys, I'll really tick him off . . . just
watch."  So the third Englishman walked over to the Irishman, tapped him
on the shoulder and said, "I hear St. Patrick was an Englishman!"

"Yeah, that's what your buddies were trying to tell me."


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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