|Progressive Calendar 06.11.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2010 13:55:10 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 06.11.10 1. Palestine vigil 6.11 4:15pm 2. Pray for peace 6.11 6:30pm 3. Reform/revolution 6.11 7pm 4. Peace walk 6.12 9am Cambridge MN 5. Green Party 6.12 10am 6. Romero/Salvador 6.12 10am 7. Vs siege of Gaza 6.12 1pm 8. Amy Goodman 6.12 1pm 9. CUAPB 6.12 1:30pm 10. Northtown vigil 6.12 2pm 11. Vs recruitment 6.12 3pm 12. Willian Blum - Don't forsake the struggle tho hypocrisy reigns 13. Stephen Zunes - Democratic Party defends Israeli attack --------1 of 13-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Palestine vigil 6.11 4:15pm The weekly vigil for the liberation of Palestine continues at the intersection of Snelling and Summit Aves in St. Paul. The Friday demo starts at 4:15 and ends around 5:30. There are usually extra signs available. --------2 of 13-------- From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org> Subject: Pray for peace 6.11 6:30pm June 11: Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates 11th Day Prayer for Peace. "Peace is a Way of Life." 6:30 PM at Presentation of Our Lady Chapel, 1890 Randolph Ave., St. Paul. --------3 of 13-------- From: jtmiller jtmiller <jtmiller [at] minn.net> Subject: Reform/revolution 6.11 7pm Friday June 11 28, 7:00 pm, MayDay Bookstore Working Democracy Book Club Concluding discussion of "Reform or Revolution," by Daniel De Leon A provocative look at "working within the system" vs. working to create a new system. Includes: the reason for the state; science and morality; the demoralizatin of the workers by political charlatans - and more more. [Fed up with the two-party corporate/capitalist scam? Come hear alternatives. -ed] --------4 of 13-------- From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Peace walk 6.12 9am Cambridge MN every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street --------5 of 13-------- From: Susan Leskela <sleskela [at] comcast.net> Subject: Green Party 6.12 10am Greetings from the Green Party of Minnesota! Join us for our summer membership meeting, which will be held on June 12 at the Pioneer Place theater in St. Cloud. Its address is 22 Fifth Avenue S, St Cloud, MN 56301. Google map: http://tinyurl.com/2vhzqfr We'll be discussing the resolutions and platform changes that were proposed and passed by our local caucuses in February, and also electing members to the GPMN State Coordinating Committee. Don't forget to bring something for our traditional pot luck lunch! The tentative meeting agenda is as follows: 10:00 am Welcome and registration 10:30 am Meeting start 10:45 am - 12:00 pm Resolutions 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm Potluck Lunch and networking 1:30 pm - 2:00 pm Elections to state Coordinating Committee and GPUS delegates 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm Platform changes 3:30 pm Meeting adjourn and evening event sponsored by St. Cloud members During the meeting, we'll be running a silent auction as a fundraiser. If you have things you'd like to donate to the silent auction, please contact Brian Begin by phone (612-720-5057) or e-mail (brianbegin [at] mngreens.org) --------6 of 13-------- From: Jason Stone <jason.stone [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Romero/Salvador 6.12 10am Coffee Hour: Commemorating the life of Archbishop Romero - June 12 Saturday June 12 10:00am-11:45am At the Resource Center of the Americas Presented in English March 24, 2010 was the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Romero. This year's commemoration of his life was highlighted by the Salvadoran government's recognition of him as the country's Spiritual Guide and the world premiere of a documentary film about Romero. Wayne Wittman and Duane Krohnke will talk about their trip to El Salvador for this occasion. They will also talk about other current events in that country: the controversies over CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) and gold mining; the continuing controversy over the training of Salvadoran military officers at the School of the Americas (now the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation); the lives and deaths of the four American church women in December 1980; the continuing vitality of the University of Centro America (UCA); the new school in the town of La Loma in Comasagua; the repopulation of the town of Cinquera in Chaletanago; the struggle for land in Tonacatepeque; and women's empowerment in San Pablo Tacachico. Romero's murder was 30 years ago, the civil war ended 18 years ago - why are these issues still compelling today? CONTACT Duane W. Krohnke TEL: 952-926-5974 dkrohnke [at] comcast.net --------7 of 13-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Vs siege of Gaza 6.12 1pm End the Siege of Gaza March and Rally: Protest Israeli Attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla Saturday, June 12, 1:00 p.m. Jackson Square Park, 900 22nd Avenue Northeast, Minneapolis. On May 10, 2010, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, consisting of six civilian ships and 700 human rights activists and journalists from over 40 countries, set sail for the Gaza Strip carrying 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid for Gaza's besieged civilians. At 4:00 a.m., May 31, heavily-armed Israeli naval commandos rappelled from helicopters onto a Gaza Freedom Flotilla ship, the Mavi Marmara, while it was traveling through international waters approximately 90 miles from the coast of Gaza. To gain control of the ship, Israeli commandos opened fire on the civilians, killing at least nine and injuring many more. All 700 passengers on board the six boats were abducted and forcibly taken to Israeli prisons. Israel's deadly attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and its illegal blockade of the Palestinian Gaza Strip would not be possible without the military and diplomatic support of the United States. While the world reacts in horror to this military assault on an aid convoy carrying wheelchairs, cement, water purification systems, children's toys and notebook paper to Gaza - all items barred by Israel's blockade - the United States continues to give Israel unconditional support and over $3 billion in annual aid. Peace Marshals are needed and asked to arrive at Noon. Sponsored by: The Coalition for Palestinian Rights (CPR). WAMM is a member of CPR. FFI: Call CPR, 612-819-3149. --------8 of 13-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Amy Goodman 6.12 1pm Amy Goodman: "Breaking the Sound Barrier: The Importance of Journalism and Independent, Community Media" Saturday, June 12, 1:00 p.m. Crowne Plaza, 11 East Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul. Democracy Now! host and author Amy Goodman will give the closing speech to the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB). All members of the public are welcome to attend her speech. The topic of Goodman's speech will be "Breaking the Sound Barrier: The Importance of Journalism and Independent, Community Media." The driving force behind her work is the belief in uncomplicated access to independent, diverse information sources to uphold a true democracy, a principle that is shared by KFAI and the NFCB community. Tickets: $15.00. Sponsored by: NFCB. Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Call 612-341-3144 (x23). Tickets: Visit www.kfai.org/store or at the door. --------9 of 13-------- From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] visi.com> Subject: CUAPB 6.12 1:30pm Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue South http://www.CUAPB.org Communities United Against Police Brutality 3100 16th Avenue S Minneapolis, MN 55407 Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867) --------10 of 13-------- From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 6.12 2pm Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday 2-3pm --------11 of 13-------- From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at] gmail.com> Subject: Vs recruitment 6.12 3pm The Will to Resist - Discussion on Military Resistance & How to Stop Recruitment Saturday, June 12th @ 3pm @ Common Roots Cafe - backroom, 2558 South Lyndale Avenue, Minneapolis To build off of Zero Recruitment Day 2010, we are having a discussion on why and how soldiers are resisting within the US military and how we can better build a movement to oppose military recruitment. Many of us will have read The Will to Resist by Dahr Jamail but please come even if you haven't read the book to join us in a thoughtful discussion. Organized by the Anti-War Committee. For more information on his book go to http://dahrjamailiraq.com/the-will-to-resist --------12 of 13-------- Don't Forsake the Struggle Hypocrisy Reigns By WILLIAM BLUM June 11 - 13, 2010 CounterPunch Things internationally are so dispiriting there's nothing left to do but fantasize. I picture Turkey, as a member of NATO, demanding that the alliance come to its defense after being attacked by Israel. Under Article 5 of the NATO charter an armed attack on one member is deemed to constitute an armed attack on all members. That is the ostensible reason NATO is fighting in Afghanistan - the attack against the United States on September 11, 2001 is regarded as an attack on all NATO members (disregarding the awkward fact that Afghanistan as a country had nothing to do with the attack). The Israeli attack on a Turkish-flagged ship, operated by a Turkish humanitarian organization, killing nine Turkish nationals and wounding many more can certainly constitute an attack upon a NATO member. So, after the United States, the UK, Germany, France and other leading NATO members offer their ridiculous non-sequitur excuses why they can't ... umm ... er ... invoke Article 5, and the international media swallows it all without any indigestion, Turkey demands that Israel should at least lose its formal association with NATO as a member of the Mediterranean Dialogue. This too is dismissed with scorn by the eminent NATO world powers on the grounds that it would constitute a victory for terrorism. And anti-Semitism of course. Turkey then withdraws from NATO. Azerbaijan and five other Central Asian members of NATO's Partnership for Peace with Turkic constituencies do the same. NATO falls into a crisis. Remaining member countries begin to question the organization's policies as never before ... like please tell us again why our young men are killing and dying in Afghanistan, and why we send them to Kosovo and Iraq and other places the Americans deem essential to their endlessly-threatened national security. When Vice President Biden tells the eminent conservative-in-liberal-clothing pseudo-intellectual Charlie Rose on TV that "We have put as much pressure and as much cajoling on Israel as we can to allow them [Gaza] to get building materials in," 1Rose for once rises to the occasion and acts like a real journalist, asking Biden: "Have you threatened Israel with ending all military and economic aid? ... Have you put the names of Israeli officials on your list of foreigners who can not enter the United States and whose bank accounts in the US are frozen, as you've done with numerous foreign officials who were not supporters of the empire? ... Since Israel has committed both crimes against the peace and crimes against humanity, and since these are crimes that have international jurisdiction, certain Israeli political and military personnel can be named in trials held in any country of the world. Will you be instructing the Attorney General to proceed with such an indictment? Or if some other country which is a member of the International Criminal Court calls upon the ICC to prosecute these individuals, will the United States try to block the move? ... Why hasn't the United States itself delivered building materials to Gaza?" When Israel justifies its murders on the grounds of "self-defense", late-night TV comedians Jay Leno and David Letterman find great humor in this, pointing out that a new memoir by China's premier at the time of the 1989 Tiananmen Square violent suppression defends the military action by saying that soldiers acted in "self-defense" when they fired on the democracy activists. (2) When Israel labels as "terrorists" the ship passengers who offered some resistance to the Israeli invaders, the New York Times points out that the passengers who resisted the 9-11 highjackers on the plane which crashed in Pennsylvania are called "heroes". (As an aside, it's worth noting that the United States uses 9-11 as Israel uses the Holocaust - as excuse and justification for all manner of illegal and violent international behavior.) Meanwhile, the Washington Post reminds its readers that in 2009 Israel attacked a boat on international waters carrying medical aid to Gaza with former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney aboard; and that in 1967 Israel attacked an American ship, the USS Liberty, killing 34 and wounding about 173, and that President Johnson did then just what President Obama is doing now and would have done then - nothing. And finally, Secretary of State Clinton declares that she's had a revelation. She realizes that what she recently said about North Korea when it was accused of having torpedoed a South Korean warship applies as well to Israel. Mrs. Clinton had demanded that Pyongyang "stop its provocative behavior, halt its policy of threats of belligerence towards its neighbors, and take irreversible steps to fulfill its denuclearization commitments and comply with international law." (3) She adds that the North Korean guilt is by no means conclusive, while Israel doesn't deny its attack on the ship at all; moreover, it's not known for sure if North Korea actually possesses nuclear weapons, whereas there's no uncertainty about Israel's large stockpile. So there you have it. Hypocrisy reigns. Despite my best fantasizing. Is hypocrisy a moral failing or a failure of the intellect? When President Obama says, as he has often, "No one is above the law" and in his next breath makes it clear that his administration will not seek to indict Bush or Cheney for any crimes, does he think that no one will notice the contradiction, the hypocrisy? That's a callous disregard for public opinion and/or a dumbness worthy of his predecessor. And when he declares: "The future does not belong to those who gather armies on a field of battle or bury missiles in the ground", (4) does it not occur to him at all that he's predicting a bleak outlook for the United States? Or that his conscious, deliberate policy is to increase the size of America's army and its stockpile of missiles? Comrades, can the hypocrisy and the lies reach such a magnitude that enough American true believers begin to question their cherished faith, so that their number reaches a critical mass and explodes? Well, it's already happened with countless Americans, but it's an awfully formidable task keeping pace with what is turned out by the mass media and education factories. They're awfully good at what they do. Too bad. But don't forsake the struggle. What better way is there to live this life? And remember, just because the world has been taken over by lying, hypocritical, mass-murdering madmen doesn't mean we can't have a good time. Notes. 1. Charlie Rose Live, June 2, 2010 program 2. Associated Press, June 4, 2010 3. State Department press conference, May 24, 2010 4. Talk given in Moscow, July 7, 2009, text released by the White House --------13 of 13-------- Published on Friday, June 11, 2010 by Foreign Policy in Focus Democratic Party Defends Israeli Attack by Stephen Zunes Common Dreams Tens of thousands of Israelis protested in the streets of Tel Aviv last weekend against their right-wing government's attack on an unarmed humanitarian aid flotilla sailing in international waters. International condemnation of the raids continued in foreign capitals. Meanwhile, in Washington, Democratic congressional leaders were lining up alongside their Republican colleagues to defend the Israeli assault. Countering the broad consensus of international legal scholars who recognize that the attack was in flagrant violation of international norms, prominent Democrats embraced the Orwellian notion that Israel's raid, which killed at least nine activists and wounded scores of others, was somehow an act of self-defense. The offensive by the Democratic leadership has been led by Gary Ackerman (D-NY), who serves as House Democrats' unofficial spokesman on Middle East policy from his position as chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee subcommittee on the Middle East. According to Ackerman, the killings were "wholly the fault and responsibility of the organizers of the effort to break through Israel and Egypt's legitimate closure of terrorist-controlled Gaza." According to Rep. Ron Klein (D-FL), due to the determination of activists on the ships to deliver humanitarian aid to the people of the besieged Gaza Strip, "Israel was left with no choice but to ensure the safety of its people." Similarly, Democratic majority leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) insisted that in attacking an unarmed flotilla carrying humanitarian aid in international waters, Israel had simply "invoked its right to self-defense." To rationalize what virtually the entire international legal community recognizes as an act of war, congressional Democrats have engaged in a series of falsifications and radical reinterpretations of international law. The first involved a radically overextended notion of maritime sovereignty. The attack took place in international waters, roughly 85 miles from the Israeli coast. International maritime law has long recognized that territorial sovereignty extends only 12 miles out to sea. A Libyan effort in the 1980s to extend its claim of sovereignty into the Gulf of Sidra beyond the 12-mile limit led to a series of deadly clashes between U.S. and Libyan armed forces in order, according to then-President Ronald Reagan, to enforce America's "global Freedom of Navigation program" to defend "our rights on and over the high seas under international law." At the time, congressional Democrats joined their Republican colleagues in defending the use of force to challenge Libya's illegal overreach of its maritime boundaries. However, congressional Democrats are quite willing to grant allied governments in the region far more latitude in extending their claims to Mediterranean waters. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) argued that responsibility for the violence lay with the organizers of the flotilla, not with "those who defended Israel's borders." Rep. Michael McMahon (D-NY) made a similar argument that the Israeli action was justified because Israel "has the right to maintain and defend its own borders." The flotilla was aiming directly toward the port of Gaza, not toward any area close to Israeli territorial waters, and no country recognizes the Gaza Strip as part of Israel. Nevertheless, Rep. Kendrik Meek (D-FL) insisted that Israel's assault on the flotilla was justified because the ships were "on the verge of breaching its sovereign borders." Similarly, Klein insisted that the ships were "threatening to breach Israel's defenses of its coastal border," and therefore "Israel was left with no choice but to ensure the safety of its people" by attacking the flotilla. Redefining "Self-Defense" The Free Gaza campaign had made clear that the cargo was exclusively humanitarian. Indeed, all of its previous eight voyages over the past two years were completely free of any weaponry or weapon parts. The plethora of peace and human rights groups participating in the flotilla would have never taken part were there any hint of arms being on board. Most crucially, customs officials rigorously inspected all the ships at their disembarkation points. Indeed, no weapons bound for the Gaza Strip were found on any of the six ships on the flotilla seized by Israel or on the seventh several days later. As a result, no reasonable person could claim that the Israelis had reason to suspect arms smuggling. The congressional Democratic leadership, however, is apparently not very reasonable. For example, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) insisted that the Israelis attacked the flotilla to ensure that "dangerous resources do not reach the terrorist organization Hamas." This kind of paranoia was evident on the Senate side as well, as Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) justified the Israeli attack on the grounds that the peace activists might have been trying to smuggle missiles or even a radiological weapon. Similarly, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) declared that "Israel has every right in the world to make certain that weapons are not being smuggled in." Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) insisted that "Israel has every right to defend itself against radical activists" in order "to prevent innocent civilian aid from being used as a facade for arms trafficking" by those "threatening the safety and security of our ally Israel." Despite the participation of large numbers of pacifists on the ships, Rep. Elliot Engel (D-NY) claimed that the flotilla "was really a Trojan Horse designed to attack the Israelis." The assault against the unarmed flotilla, according to Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), was simply a case of the Israeli government "defending.their citizens" and "exercising its right to self-defense." Paul Hodes (D-NH) argued that Israel's intent in attacking the flotilla was simply "to protect itself and its citizens" while House Majority Leader Hoyer insisted that "Israel - rightfully so - invoked its right to self-defense on the Mavi Marmara." Rep Patrick Murphy (D-PA) also insisted that Israel was simply invoking its right to self-defense," while Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) insisted that "those aboard the Mavi Marmara never intended to carry out a peaceful humanitarian mission" and that "It was only when faced with violence that the soldiers reacted in self-defense." The Israelis confiscated all recording equipment from those on board, only showing their carefully edited version of events surrounding their assault on lead vessel in a widely circulated videotape. The refusal to return any of the recording equipment to the kidnapped activists would normally raise questions as to what the Israeli government might be trying to hide. But that didn't bother Democratic lawmakers, who repeatedly cited the Israeli video as "evidence" to support their case that the people defending their ship, not the ones attacking it, were the aggressors. There are conflicting reports of what happened when Israeli forces illegally boarded the Mavi Marmara, but what is known is that Israeli commandos initiated the attack on the ship using stun grenades, teargas, paintballs, and rubber-cased steel bullets. The initial response from those on board was to try to fend off the attackers off with water hoses while the ship's passengers attempted to form a defensive cordon around the wheelhouse to prevent the attackers from seizing the ship. Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States, acknowledged that the flotilla was simply "too large to stop with nonviolent means." Despite this, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz (D-FL) insisted that "the Israeli Navy worked to plan a non-violent interception of the flotilla and only used force when soldiers' lives were at risk." At least 48 activists suffered gunshot wounds and scores of others were badly beaten. The British newspaper The Independent reported that soldiers fired down on the activists from their helicopters prior to any Israeli soldiers boarding the Mavi Marmara. One journalist reported that a man standing next to him was shot through the top of his head, killing him instantly. Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI), however, insisted that the killings were all "acts of self-defense," while Rep. Shelley Berkeley (D-NV) blamed "passengers on the vessel, not Israeli forces, as the instigators of violence." Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) said the "violent force [was] in fact initiated by those whose boat was boarded." Though the overwhelming majority of those on the ships were from peace organizations like War Resisters International, the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Pax Christi, and others, Rep. Engel insisted that the ships were actually "filled with hate-filled provocateurs bent on violence." Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) claimed the responsibility for the killings were "those who chose to run an internationally recognized blockade and attack uniformed personnel." Though there were no guns found on board any of the ships, Quigley insisted that the activists "shot Israeli soldiers as they landed on the main ship." Autopsy reports reveal that most of the victims of the Israeli raid were shot in the head at close range. Fulkan Dogan, a 19-year old U.S. citizen, was shot five times from less than 18 inches away. Similarly, despite Israeli troops using stun guns and severely beating passengers on the other ships who offered no violent resistance, Rep. Shelley Berkeley (D-NV) insisted that the Israeli seizure of the five other vessels took place "without incident," demonstrating that "Israeli personnel had no intention to use force and only did so in self-defense." The Turkish crew - which, unlike the vast majority of people on board the ships, had not gone through the mandatory nonviolence training - should not have fought back. It should be noted, however, that international maritime law clearly gives crew members the right to defend their vessel from attacks in international waters. Apparently, these congressional Democrats believe, however, if you are attacked by the navy of a strategic ally of the United States, you have no right to defend your ship. Accusations of Terrorist Ties The most dangerous accusation by congressional Democratic leaders involves charges that the activists on board and the organizers of the flotilla had ties to terrorism. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee's subcommittee on terrorism, nonproliferation, and trade, called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute American participants in the flotilla. Because the Gaza Strip is currently ruled by Hamas, according to Sherman, any humanitarian aid to the people of that territory is "clearly an effort to give items of value to a terrorist organization." Sherman also announced he would be working with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that the more than 700 non-U.S. citizens who took part in the flotilla would be permanently barred from ever entering the United States. This would include European parliamentarians and Nobel laureates, as well as leading writers, artists, intellectuals, pacifists, and human rights activists, virtually none of whom is in the least bit sympathetic with Hamas or terrorism. A series of Democrats in Congress have joined in insisting that the organizers of the flotilla have, in Sherman's words, "clear terrorist ties." Indeed, Frank insists that these groups are "pro-Hamas people" and that, rather than provide aid to the people of the Gaza Strip, they were actually "seeking to land in Gaza to aid and support Hamas." Engel insisted that the organizers of the flotilla have "links to Hamas and reportedly played a role in the attempted Millennium bombing in Los Angeles." Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) insisted that the United States "must stand up for the right of Israel to defend herself against terrorism . which is what Israel did when she blocked the attempt by the Flotilla to forcefully breach the blockade." And Rep. Ackerman claimed that the humanitarian relief effort was "to provoke a confrontation with Israel for the benefit of Hamas and as part of the international effort to delegitimize Israel's existence." The very idea that pacifist, feminist, Jewish, and Christian organizations like CODEPINK, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the American Friends Service Committee would ally with a violent, misogynist, Islamic group like Hamas - much less any group that engages in terrorism - should be recognized as absurd on face value. When prominent Democrats - including the head of the House subcommittee on terrorism - imply that leading American and Israeli peace groups are linked to terrorism, it is no longer simply heated rhetoric in defense of the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, but a dangerous attack on civil liberties. These congressional Democrats also ignore the fact that the Free Gaza campaign is supported by such Israeli groups such as Yesh G'vul, the Coalition of Women for Peace, New Profile, and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, among others. Such organizations and their members were already being subjected to violent attacks by far right-wing groups, some of whom have openly called for the murder of Knesset members who supported the flotilla. By falsely accusing these groups of being part of an effort that supports Hamas and other terrorist groups, these members of Congress appear to be willing to put the lives of Israeli peace and human rights activists at risk. Shutting Out the United Nations Democratic congressional leaders were quick to praise the Obama administration for blocking the United Nations from criticizing the Israeli attack. Hoyer reiterated how the "administration and Congress are determined to prevent condemnation of Israel at the UN Security Council." One clear role for the United Nations - given the conflicting accounts of what transpired during the Israeli attack - would be to launch an international investigation. A recent public opinion poll shows a clear majority of Americans - including 65 percent of Democrats - favor an international inquiry over allowing Israel alone to investigate the circumstances of the attack. Despite this, congressional Democrats have also joined the Obama administration in insisting that Israel, not the UN or other international body, should conduct any investigation into the attack. This comes despite reports from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International documenting the right-wing Israeli government's notoriously poor record at conducting credible internal investigations regarding possible war crimes by its armed forces. Rejecting such detailed reports from reputable human rights organizations, Frank nonetheless insists "the Israeli government...has a very good record of holding the Israeli government to account," and that "the Israeli government has a better record of legitimate self-criticism than almost any other government in the world." Turning the consensus of international human rights organizations on its head, Frank argues that the only a group "commissioned by the Israeli government" would have credibility, while "clearly no inquiry chartered by the U.N. would have the credibility." Other congressional Democrats have also been lining up insisting that the right-wing Israeli government of Benyamin Netanyahu be entrusted with the investigation. Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN) insisted that "We must allow Israel, not the United Nations. . . to conduct a formal investigation into the flotilla incident." Similarly, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) has called for an "Israeli-led investigation" as have Rep. Michael McMahon (D-NY) and Rep. Sestak (D-PA), who is currently the Democratic nominee for Senate. Reid underscored his confidence in the right-wing Israeli government in noting how "Israel has pledged to carry out a transparent and thorough investigation of this incident, and I look forward to its findings." Denying the Humanitarian Crisis Democrats have also lined up to defend the blockade of the Gaza Strip, even as corporate media outlets such as Newsweek acknowledge that the blockade has little to do with preventing weapons smuggling. Some have gone as far as challenging the credibility of the UN and a plethora of aid agencies that have documented the public health crisis and food shortages in the Gaza Strip. For example, Sherman insists "the health circumstances in Gaza are better than they are in many American cities." In reality, UN officials have called the situation "grim," "deteriorating," and a "medieval siege." A bare minimum of 400 truckloads of goods needs to enter Gaza each week, and only an average of 171 get in. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in 10 Gazans suffer from "chronic malnutrition," and the UN says six in 10 Gaza households are "food insecure." As reported in the Israeli press, as elsewhere, Israel has repeatedly refused to allow humanitarian goods into the Gaza Strip. This fact did not stop Reid from claiming that Israel "put in place a process to ensure that legitimate humanitarian relief reached Gaza." Similarly, Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ) praised Israel for "allow[ing] trucks loaded with humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza on a daily basis," ignoring that such vehicles allowed by Israel are far less than what's needed. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) insisted that "there are alternative methods of delivery that are available," ignoring the fact that restrictive Israeli checkpoints have repeatedly turned away WHO medical supplies and rejected or delayed the delivery of UN food aid. Despite efforts to blame Hamas, Israel is in fact the source of the humanitarian crisis. Yet Democrats continue to be in denial. 'Creating an Incident' Israel had allowed five of the previous eight ships from the Free Gaza Campaign carrying humanitarian supplies to deliver their goods to the port of Gaza without interception. So there was some genuine hope that the Israelis would allow this flotilla to dock unimpeded as well. To leading Democratic lawmakers, such as Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), however, "this flotilla was more about creating an incident than helping people." Similarly, Mikulski insisted that the activists "cared more about inciting a confrontation that they did about delivering aid." These lawmakers seem to have forgotten, however, the longstanding tradition of strategic nonviolent direct action to "create an incident." The four African-American students who sat at the Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro back in 1960 weren't just interested in a cup of coffee. Similarly, when civil rights activists protested in downtown Birmingham in 1963, there was reason to suspect that Sherriff Bull Connor would use force to break up the demonstrations. When people struggle nonviolently for justice against an oppressive state apparatus, there is no contradiction between helping people and creating an incident. Relations with Turkey Much of the wrath of congressional Democrats centers on the government of Turkey, a longstanding NATO ally. Pallone demanded that Obama condemn the Turkish government for supporting the relief effort and reacting negatively to the attack, which killed nine Turks on board. According to Rep. Anthony Wiener (D-NY), "We know this tragedy was instigated by Turkey." Though Turkey remains in NATO, Wiener went as far as referring to Turkey as "our former ally." Similarly, Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) argued that criticism of Israel's action "neglects the role that Turkey played in staging the flotilla and Turkey's readiness to condone this kind of brinksmanship." Putting the blame on Turkey for the deaths of its own citizens in international waters taking part in a multinational humanitarian relief efforts is particularly ironic given that, as recently as two months ago, many of these same members of Congress refused to support the recent House resolution commemorating the 1915 Armenian genocide on the grounds that it would offend the Turkish government. In the world view of congressional Democrats, however, defending what is essentially an act of piracy and the murder of nine Turkish citizens is worth damaging relations with this key NATO ally, but acknowledging the genocide of one and half million Armenians is not. Withdraw Support from the Democratic Party This is certainly not the first time that Democratic congressional leaders have defended violations of international legal norms by U.S. allies. The history of supporting the Salvadoran junta, Nicaraguan Contras, Indonesian occupation forces in East Timor, and Moroccan occupation forces in Western Sahara all attest to the way the Democratic Party, like the Republican Party, is wedded to the notion that U.S. allies should be held to a lower standard of adherence to international law than perceived adversaries. Indeed, one can imagine the reaction of these same Democrats had it been the Iranian navy that attacked a humanitarian flotilla in international waters, killed passengers and crew members, and kidnapped 750 people (including journalists) and held them incommunicado for several days in Iran. Republican congressional leaders have certainly done no better in supporting Israel's raids. Yet many Democrats who have engaged in these right-wing attacks on human rights and international law consider themselves "progressive." Democratic members of Congress have ended their defense of the Salvadoran junta, the Indonesian dictatorship, and other criminal policies only when pressured by their constituents. Peace and human rights activists should similarly raise an outcry in response to the dangerously intemperate and inaccurate statements from congressional Democrats and then deny support for the re-election of any member of Congress who continues to support this latest Israeli atrocity. For More Information: All quotes from congressional representatives taken from the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, "Congressional Statements on the Gaza Flotilla Incident, June 9, 2010; http://www.aipac.org/Publications/Congressional_Statements_on_Flotilla.pdf Stephen Zunes is a professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco, where he chairs the Middle Easter Studies program, and serves as a senior analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus, where this article first appeared. [It is time to: condemn Israel boycott Israel condemn the national Dem Party - corrupt, anti-democratic, evil. LEAVE the national Dem Party - no money, no votes, no praise. It is hopeless - unreformable from inside or outside, a total waste of valuable time and people power - move on without it. Till then, America slides deeper and deeper into disaster. -ed] ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress for governor now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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