Progressive Calendar 06.11.10
From: David Shove (
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

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From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
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

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From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
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.

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From: jtmiller jtmiller <jtmiller [at]>
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]

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From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at]>
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

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From: Susan Leskela <sleskela [at]>
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:

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
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]

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From: Jason Stone <jason.stone [at]>
Subject: Romero/Salvador 6.12 10am

Coffee Hour: Commemorating the life of Archbishop Romero - June 12
Saturday June 12
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]

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From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
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.

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From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
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 or at the door.

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From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: CUAPB 6.12 1:30pm

Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue

Communities United Against Police Brutality
3100 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)

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From: Vanka485 [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 6.12 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday

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From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at]>
Subject: Vs recruitment 6.12 3pm

The Will to Resist - Discussion on Military Resistance & How to Stop
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

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Don't Forsake the Struggle
Hypocrisy Reigns
June 11 - 13, 2010

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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;

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

[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]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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