Kellia’s World – Recommended Reading

Challenging the assumptions we live by — Because I want to.

Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Cynthia McKinney at “Let Gaza Live” rally in D.C.

Posted by kelliasworld on January 11, 2009

Today I participated in ANSWER’s march and rally, “Let Gaza Live” in Washington, D.C.  Attendance was excellent despite the weather.  Among the many friends in attendance, I met a young man and his daughter who had come all the way from Greensboro, North Carolina to participate.  The crowd was one of the most diverse that I have ever seen.  I think our message is reaching deep into our country’s heartland.  Here are my remarks:

Cynthia McKinney
“Let Gaza Live”
Washington, D.C.
January 10, 2009

We don’t see the images.  They are neatly censored from our view in this country.  But everywhere else around the world the carnage that is Gaza is being seen and the people are revolted by what they see.

They see dead babies, decapitated bodies, defenseless relief workers killed.  Maimed men, makeshift morgues, mortified mothers.

They see exploding white phosphorus shells, cluster bombs, depleted uranium munitions.

They see what is reportedly the world’s fourth most powerful military using all of its power against a defenseless people.

In fact, they are witnesses to 15 days of war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and genocide.

They see Hugo Chavez expel Venezuela’s Israeli Ambassador and they see lawmakers in Ecuador condemn Israel’s actions, calling for an investigation into Israel’s crimes against humanity.

And despite the obvious facts of an Israeli-sponsored terror campaign against Palestinians in Gaza, a piece of territory roughly twice the size of the District of Columbia, they see the U.S. Congress support a resolution totally supporting Israel, even though Israel is in violation of U.S. and international law.

They see Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, swaggering in insult to black America by initially refusing to seat Roland Burris from Illinois in the Senate, yet that same Reid cowers before the pro-Israel lobby, and they wonder why.

And sadly, they see the U.S. President-elect, who roared onto the scene like a lion, remain as quiet as a lamb in the face of the utter inhumanity of Israel’s actions, and they wonder why.

And then, they see us.  Gathered here in front of the White House, reaffirming our own humanity, and that of millions of people around the world, including in Israel, who disagree with this death and destruction.  The tears of the Palestinians roll down our cheeks, even as we bury our own victims of police murder.

A new day is coming in U.S. politics.  We will use the power of our vote to change U.S. policy.  We will no longer check our values at the door and support politicians and political parties that fail to deliver.

Not one more bomb to Israel.

In defense of humanity, we will not give up and we will win.

Take action — click here to contact your local newspaper or congress people:
Call your representatives starting on Monday, January 12.

Posted in Cynthia McKinney | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Political limbo: when lame duck meets reluctant transition

Posted by kelliasworld on January 5, 2009

Ah, this is the winter of our political discontent, caught in the limbo between the ending of an 8 year presidency and the inauguration of another which could last for another 8. There is a terrible disconnect between the continuity of our national problems, both domestic and the foreign, and the possible or probable alteration of the policies by means of which we have dealt (or failed to deal) with those problems. The retiring or lame duck administration is reluctant to undertake any policies (except perhaps for matters like presidential pardons or the alteration of administrative environmental regulations) that may be abandoned as soon as the incoming administration takes over. For their part, the administration-to-be is unlikely to propose policy changes before they have taken the reins of power by means of which they can hopefully secure adoption of those proposals. As Barack Obama said in refusing to comment on the current Israeli assault on Gaza: “there’s only one President at a time.” I would argue, to contrary, that in this as every political transition period in U.S. history there is NO President, no one with the power and the motive to assume definitive leadership in dealing with our problems, both domestic and foreign.

This political limbo is of course most acutely expressed in the area of foreign policy, in which there seems to be a conventional understanding that, in such matters, the United States must stand united in support of a singular version of U.S. foreign policy. If a U.S. leader like Jesse Jackson or (more currently) Cynthia McKinney makes a public foray into a version du jour of the endless conflict in the Middle East, that act will be treated as a violation of that understanding of public unanimity despite differences in viewpoint or intention of different persons and parties. The Gaza situation demonstrates the deadly effect of the transition limbo: an effect of which, I have no doubt, Israeli leaders were quite aware and of which they were quite prepared to take advantage, based on the timing of an invasion that could have come almost anytime since Gaza exercised its sovereign right to choose a government controlled by Hamas three years ago. The Bush administration, engaged in the proverbial “rush for the bus” in which sports teams out of title contention at the end of the season play out their schedule with minimal interest or involvement, is hardly likely to interrupt its bogus victory lap in the Middle East by getting involved in anything beyond moral sputterings about how this stuff has got to stop.

Well, that’s the lame duck part of the limbo; the reluctant transition is a little harder to explain. Obama, his chosen cabinet and staff and most of his supporters seem to be continuing their agenda of muting any criticism or even positive suggestion for the new administration on the apparent assumption that, like “nothing was the same” (supposedly but wrongly believed) after 9/11/01, nothing will be the same after 1/20/09 as morning comes (again) to America and we get a “fresh start” on our problems,. both domestic and foreign.

Where domestic policy is concerned, there is actually little pretense that the economic “crisis” into which we have entered will be much different before and after 1/20, and Obama

has made it abundantly clear that he will not act on a chaste “one President at a time” assumption as his administration has moved forward with bailout and economic stimulus in recognition, perhaps, of the fact that there will be only a cosmetic change as the neo-conservatives of the Bush administration are replaced by the Clinton-era Chicago school economists of the Obama one.

In foreign policy the Obama administration could and urgently should take the same kind of activist role that they have adopted in the area of domestic economic policy. True, Obama cannot and perhaps should not advocate specific U.S. military actions like (what needs to be done) the denial to Israel of the military hardware used in the assault on Gaza. But he definitely could and should articulate a principle of foreign policy with regard to the Middle East that looks like something more than the “lopsided” support of Israel which some Arab leaders are accusing Condoleezza Rice of displaying. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict can never be settled by acknowledging an unquestioning right of Israel to commit whatever acts it chooses against what it deems as existential threats by Palestinians. Yet this is exactly what Bush and Obama, Rice and Hillary Clinton, almost with one voice, have pronounced as the sole basis of U.S. Middle East “policy.”

Please don’t tell me that it will be “soon enough” after Obama takes office for him to articulate and practice a less lop-sided “doctrine.” In its dealing with Jewish settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank, Israel has perfected the fine art of creating “facts on the ground” (i.e, settlers located in Arab land) with which governments will have to deal after the fact. As Obama will “inherit” the consequences of ongoing foreign policy decisions (or non-decisions) of the Bush administration (remember how JFK “inherited” the already-planned Bay of Pigs operation from Eisenhower?), he has every motive and civic responsibility to begin to exercise leadership in articulating a post-imperialist policy that will embrace conflict resolution not only in the Middle East but wherever the tentacles of U.S. imperialism are spread. People throughout the Arab world, many of whom were treated by Al Jazeera with juxtaposed images of the “pecs and abs” displayed by Obama at his Hawaiian vacation idyll with images of Gaza under siege and attack are looking exactly for that leadership. The Americans who elected him to the presidency should expect no less.

Jerry D. Rose – Editor, The Sun State Activist

Posted in Israel, Jerry D. Rose, Obama, Palestine, Principled Progressive | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

From Cynthia McKinney: We Lived to Tell the Story; Lebanon Rescued Us

Posted by kelliasworld on January 1, 2009

Sent: Thursday, January 1, 2009 4:51:54 PM
Subject: [hq2600] From Cynthia McKinney: We Lived to Tell the Story; Lebanon Rescued Us
January 1, 2009 – We Lived to Tell the Story: Lebanon Rescued Us

Yesterday, we met with the President of Lebanon, the Chief of the Military, and the Interior Minister who all thanked us for responding and risking our lives on a mission of mercy; we profusely thanked them for rescuing us.

What would we have done, stranded out at sea, prohibited from reaching our destination, low on fuel, with a badly damaged boat if Lebanon had not accepted us? Lebanon sent their ships to find us. Lebanon rescued us. Lebanon welcomed us. And we are truly thankful.

It’s official now. We’ve been told that the sturdy, wood construction of our boat, Dignity, is the reason we are still alive. Fiberglass would probably not have withstood the impact of the Israeli attack and under different circumstances, we might not be here to tell the story. Even at that, the report that came to us yesterday after the Captain and First Mate went back to Sour (Tyre) to inspect the boat was that it was sinking, the damage is extensive, and the boat will take, in their estimation, at least one month to repair. Tomorrow, we will bring the Dignity from Sour to Beirut. And now, we must decide what to do and from where we will do it and how we are to get back to wherever that might be.

*****My personal, and I know the group’s, thanks must go to Al Jazeera, that allowed three of their reporters to be onboard with us on our voyage. As a result, Al Jazeera carried the story of the Dignity live, from castoff in Cyprus when our spirits were high, right up through the manacing maneuvers of the huge, super fast Israeli ships before they rammed us, the Israeli calls on the ship phone after the ramming calling us terrorists and subversives and telling us to return to Cyprus (even though the Israelis later claimed that they didn’t know who we were, they knew enough about us to tell us where we had come from), and the fact that we didn’t have enough fuel to follow their instructions, right up to their threat to fire at us if we didn’t turn around, ending with our beaten-up boat limping into Sour harbor in Lebanon. Al Jazeera carried our story as “breaking news” and performed a real service to its audience and to us. Al Jazeera called the Israelis to inquire about the incident right as it was happening and I am sure the Israelis were prepared to leave none to tell the story. Al Jazeera told the story and documented it as it was happening.*****

One of those Al Jazeera reporters with us was Sami El-Haj, who was detained in Guantanamo by the United States for six incredibly long years. What an honor to even exchange glances with such a humble man who had endured so much pain at the hands of the U.S. government. I apologized to him that my tax dollars were being used in such a despicable way. And Sami’s crime according to the U.S.? Born in Sudan, and reporting for Al Jazeera in Afghanistan, Sami was the wrong color, the wrong nationality, the wrong religion, reporting for the wrong news outfit, telling us the truth about a wrong war. And for that he survived incarceration for six long years. Sami El-Haj, Guantanamo prisoner number 345.

***Another incredibly committed journalist who was with us was CNN’s Karl Penhaul. Karl reported the truth even when his own station was repeating Israeli disinformation. The fact that we were traveling with these alert journalists added to the flat-footedness and obvious crudeness of the Israeli response. Sadly, Israel has changed its story too many times to count, and that’s because they are not telling the truth.***

We lived to tell the story. Karl’s incredible reporting, just a portion of our story, can be seen on CNN at:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/12/30/gaza.aid.boat/index.html

where there’s also video and a photo of our damaged boat. A little more of the story and film of the extensive damage can be seen at:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/12/30/gaza.aid.boat/index.html#cnnSTCVideo

*****This video and the photos of Karl’s report is particularly interesting given that Israel claims that our boat was only scratched and that, in actuality, our captain, while trying to outmaneuver them, damaged their warship.*****

*****I’m told that CNN only played my full statement once–and that’s the time that it aired live. Of course, they cut the reference to the U.S.S. Liberty. What are they afraid of?*****

Last night I was on PressTV.com, along with others who were on the Dignity, and we debated a representative from WINEP, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. I reminded the audience that the Palestinians don’t have nuclear weapons, depleted uranium munitions, white phosphorous, or F-16s, but the Israelis do. The facts, however, tend to get garbled after being processed by the “Grand Wurlitzer” organ of state-sponsored disinformation utilizing the world’s press.

***With the truth clearly on our side, Israel has been reduced to releasing the ridiculous bombast below, given to me by a reporter who came to our hotel in Beirut for a visit. With their multiple, conflicting stories, it is clear that the Israelis did not expect us to live to tell the truth.***

On the drive from Sour through Saida to Beirut, we were welcomed like heroes because our ordeal had been seen by everyone on Al Jazeera. The mayor of Sour came to welcome us. The mayor of Saida insisted that we stop there, on our way to Beirut, for a special ceremony. But there was something else that was visible along our drive, and that is the devastation that Lebanon, itself, has received as a result of the Israeli war machine. The scars of the war are still evident everywhere. I will write more on that tomorrow.

And one final note, President-elect Obama roared like a mighty lion onto the political scene, but now he is as silent as a lamb in the face of the death and destruction that is happening in Gaza. As we approach the birthday celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. let us remember what Dr. King said:

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

And after five days of aerial bombardment by Israel, the carnage in Gaza continues.

Here is the palaver that the Israelis put out for public consumption. It is pitiful that a powerful and mighty country like Israel would be reduced to publishing something so petty and weak as the following press release dated December 30, 2008:

seal
Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast

Press Release

Office of Media Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
12.30.2008

Israel continues to take its humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza seriously. Border crossings into Gaza remain open, and every effort is being made to deliver aid to the Palestinian people. [Note that on New Year’s Day, The Israeli government claimed there was no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Meanwhile, the death toll there is over 400–Kellia]. Nearly 100 trucks carrying relief supplies entered Gaza on the 28th & 29th of December and additional shipments are arriving. Israel is working closely with UNSCO, UNRWA, the Red Cross, and WHO to ensure the entry of the required aid, especially food and medical equipment.

Unfortunately, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has taken it upon herself to commit an act of provocation, leading a small boat of supposed assistants into the conflict zone. She endangered herself, her assistants, and the vessel’s crew. The Israeli navy hailed Ms. McKinney but the former Congresswoman failed to respond, thereby leading to the incident. We regret that during this time of crisis, while Israel is battling with the terrorist organization of Hamas and defending its citizens, that we are forced to deal with Ms. McKinney’s irresponsible behavior.

Consulate General of Israel
to the Southeast
1100 Spring St NW, Ste 440
Atlanta, GA 30309-2823

Michael Printy Arthur
Director of Media Affairs
404.487.6511
media@atlanta.mfa.gov.il

For additional information, please visit our website.

Posted in Israel, Palestine | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

From Cynthia McKinney: Oh, What a Day!

Posted by kelliasworld on December 31, 2008

Sent: Wednesday, December 31, 2008 1:29:18 PM
Subject: [hq2600] From Cynthia McKinney: Oh What a Day!
December 30, 2008: Oh What a Day!

I’m so glad that my father told me to buy a special notebook and to write everything down because that’s exactly what I did.

When we left from Cyprus, one reporter asked me “are you afraid?” And I had to respond that Malcolm X wasn’t afraid; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wasn’t afraid. But little did I know that just a few hours later, I would be recollecting my life and mentally preparing myself for death.

When we left Cyprus, the Mediterranean was beautiful. I remember the time when it might have been beautiful to look at, but it was also filthy. The Europeans have taken great strides to clean it up and yesterday, it was beautiful. And the way the sunlight hit the sea, I remember thinking to myself that’s why they call it azure. It was the most beautiful blue.

But sometimes it was rough, and we got behind on our schedule. We stayed on course, however, despite the roughness of the water and due to our exquisite captain.

There were no other ships or boats around us and night descended upon us all rather quickly. It was the darkest black and suddenly, out of nowhere, came searchlights disturbing our peace. The searchlights stayed with us for about half an hour or so. We knew they were Israeli ships. Who else would they be?

They were fast, and they would come close and then drop back. And then, they’d come close again. And then, all of a sudden there was complete blackness once again and all seemed right. The cat and mouse game went on for at least one half hour. What were they doing? And why?

Calm again. Black sky, black sea. Peace. And then, at that very moment, when all seemed right, out of nowhere we were rammed and rammed again and rammed again the last one throwing me off the couch, sending all our food up in the air; and all the plastic bags and tubs–evidence of sea sicknesses among the crew and passengers–flew all over the cabin and all over us. We’d been rammed by the Israelis. How did we know? Because they called us on the phone afterwards to tell us that we were engaging in subversive, terroristic activity. And if that if we didn’t turn around right then and return to Larnaca, Cyprus, we would be fired upon. We quickly grabbed our lifevests and put them on. Then the captain announced that the boat was taking on water. We might have to evacuate. One of my mates told me to prepare to die. And I reflected that I have lived a good and full life. I have tasted freedom and know what it is. I was right with myself and my decision to join the Free Gaza movement.

***I remembered my father’s parting words, “You all will be sitting ducks.” Just like the U.S.S. Liberty. We were engaged in peaceful activity, a harmless pleasure boat, carrying a load of hospital supplies for the people of Gaza, who, too are sitting ducks, currently being bombarded in aerial assault by the Israeli military.***

It’s been a long day for us. The captain was outstanding. Throughout it all, he remained stoic and calm, effective in every way. I didn’t know how to put my life jacket on. One of the passengers kindly assisted me. Another of the passengers pointed out that the Israeli motors for those huge, fast boats was U.S. made–a gift to them from the U.S. And now they were using those motors to damage a pleasure boat outfitted with three tons of hospital supplies, one pediatrician, and two surgeons.

*****I have called for President-elect Obama to say something. The Palestinian people in the Gaza strip are seeing the worst violence in 60 years, it is being reported. To date, President-elect Obama has remained silent. The Israelis are using weapons supplied to them by the U.S. government. Strict enforcement of U.S. law would require the cessation of all weapons transfers to Israel. Adherence to international law would require the same. As we are about to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, let us remember that he said:*****

*****1. The United States is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, and*****
*****2. Our lives begin to end the day we remain silent about things that matter.*****

I implore the President-elect to not send Congress a budget that contains more weapons for Israel. We have so much more to offer. And I implore the Congress to vote “no” on any budget and appropriation bills that provide more weapons transfers, period.

Israel is able to carry out these intense military maneuvers because taxpayers in the U.S. give their hard-earned money to our Representatives in Congress and our Congress chooses to spend that money in this way. Let’s stop it and stop it now. There’s been too much blood shed. And while we still walk among the living, let us not remain silent about the things that matter.

We really can promote peace and have it if we demand it of our leaders.

Posted in Israel, Palestine | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Obama: Change you can believe in…Not! (Part 3)

Posted by kelliasworld on November 3, 2008

[Originally published on the website Speaking Truth to Power. Apologies in advance for any cosmetic issues. — KR]

By Kéllia Ramares

Part 3 – Israel and Iran

Which country comes foremost in US foreign policy, the United States or Israel? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. The Israeli-centric approach to US Middle East foreign policy, which is unfair to the Palestinians and dangerous to a United States dependent on foreign oil, will not change in an Obama Administration.

Which office is Obama running for?

On June 4, 2008, the day after Barack Obama clinched the Democratic nomination, he spoke to AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Here are some excerpts of that speech:

I want you to know that today I’ll be speaking from my heart and as a true friend of Israel. And I know that when I visit with AIPAC, I am among friends. Good Friends. Friends who share my strong commitment to make sure that they bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable today, tomorrow, and forever.

… I was drawn to the belief that you could sustain a spiritual, emotional and cultural identity. And I deeply understood the Zionist idea – that there is always a homeland at the center of our story. … We know the establishment of Israel was just and necessary, rooted in centuries of struggle and decades of patient work. But 60 years later, we know that we cannot relent, we cannot yield, and as president I will never compromise when it comes to Israel’s security….Those who threaten Israel threaten us. Israel has always faced these threats on the front lines. And I will bring to the White House an unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security. … Let me be clear. Israel’s security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable. The Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive, and that allows them to prosper – but any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.1

Great Great speech…for a candidate for Prime Minister of Israel.

Later in the summer Robert Fisk, renowned British journalist who has covered the Middle East for over 20 years, said: But hasn’t anyone realised that Obama has chosen for his advisers two if the most lamentable failures of US Middle East policy making? There, yet again, is Dennis Ross, a former prominent staff member of AIPAC, the most powerful Israeli lobby in Washington — yup, the very same AIPAC to which Obama grovelled last month – and the man who failed to make the Oslo agreement work. And there is Madeleine Albright who, as US ambassador the the UN, said that the price of half a million dead children under sanctions in Iraq was “worth it”, and who later announced that Israel was “under siege”. This must be the only time – ever – that a US politician thought Palestinian tanks were on the streets of Tel Aviv.2

Understand that Zionism is a political philosophy and is not the same as Judaism, which is a religion. One does not have to be Jewish to be a Zionist. In fact, Christian Zionists are prominent as supporters of and elected officials from the Republican Party.3 Some Christian Zionists, particularly the Dispensationalists,–the late Rev. Jerry Falwell was one–want Israel to claim all of Palestine because they believe that this is a necessary precursor to the Second Coming of Christ.4 However, these Christian Zionists also believe that the Jews and all other non-Christians will be condemned on Judgment Day. So they don’t have any particular love for the Jewish people.

Jewish Zionism stems from the anti-Semitism Jews have faced in Europe and elsewhere. Jewish Zionists see Israel as the one place Jews can be safe.5 But not all Jews are Zionists, and in fact, Zionism is actually considered by many Jews to be a heresy.6 So being Anti-Zionist does not mean one is Anti-Semitic.

There are two kinds of Holocaust deniers. There are the fools and propagandists, like white supremacists and Iran’s President Ahmadinejad who claim it never happened or that far fewer Jews were killed than the history books say. There is certainly more than enough documentation of the atrocities to prove these fools wrong.

But there is a second, less publicized but more pernicious, form of Holocaust denial. One that many of us are guilty of. It’s the denial that overemphasizes the tragedy of the Jews and fails to comprehend the full scope of Hitler’s evil. While the Nazis made the Jews the scapegoats for Germany’s economic problems post WWI, Hitler also persecuted Slavs, Roma (Gypsies), trade unionists, Communists, homosexuals, who were marked with a pink triangle as Jews were marked with a yellow Star of David, and the disabled. He also thought blacks were subhuman, and while there were not many blacks in Europe, Rommel “The Desert Fox” operated in North Africa, as the Nazis desperately searched for oil with which to fuel their war machine, and fascist ally Italy held Ethiopia as a colony.

While we often hear about the 6 million Jews who were killed in the Holocaust, we seldom hear about the over 20 million citizens of the Soviet Union, military and civilian, who died during WWII,7 and we hear even less about the atrocities committed by the Japanese allies of the Nazis in the Philippines, Korea, China, Indonesia and other places in Asia.

And, of course, in 1938, Hitler felt confident that he could eliminate the Jews because “no one remembers the Armenians” who, to this day, are seeking recognition for their genocide in waning days of the Ottoman Empire.

US Presidents of both parties, and their advisers, for too long have acted as if the Jewish people were the only ones ever to be victims of genocide. But if humanity is to learn the true lesson of the Holocaust, we must remember that other peoples were genocided before WWII, and have been genocided since WWII, and that others besides the Jews were genocided during WWII. The true lesson is that “Never again” must be “Never Again” for everybody, or else it will be “here we go again” for somebody. The goal should be to eliminate genocide from human behavior, not to guarantee of survival of one set of genocide victims above all others.

For “Never Again” to be realized, the dominator paradigm of human relations must be overthrown in favor of a system in which the rights of all people, as individuals and as group members, are respected. There are at least two competing ways of achieving this outcome. One way is through true democracy in which there is a “one person-one vote” principle and where various groups can speak, publish and educate in their own languages, worship, or not, as they please, band together in whatever political parties they wish, and engage in economic activity without discrimination.

The other, which seems to be the way the world is going, is for each people to have its own land. But the struggle for independence or autonomy is a bloody one, full of ethnic cleansing (e.g. Serbia) or acts of repression by the dominant culture over the minority (e.g. Tibet and China). Israel is but one famous example of this “one people on its own land” approach, which, frankly, is outdated in places where colonial powers have redrawn borders to weaken the power of local ethnic groups to resist. (This includes the United States in its treatment of Native American nations). And that “to each his own” solution is never equally applied. The United States, whichever party is in power, has an overweening concern for the survival of Israel as a Jewish state; the Palestinians are an afterthought, the Kurds, who are the largest ethnic group in the world to not have its own state, are hardly thought of at all. And a worldwide list of peoples with their own nationalistic aspirations, ignored or trampled on by larger powers, is fairly long, indeed.

Why is Israel so special to the United States? For some it may be the idea that the establishment of Greater Israel fulfills a biblical prophecy, for others it may be guilt over the Holocaust and the US failure to help Jews trying to escape the Nazis. But I think a large part of it may be that Israel gives the United States a firm pied-a-terre in the oil-rich Middle East. The worldwide search for resources we can control is at the heart of US foreign policy. Or to put it simply, “what’s our oil doing under their sand?” Our hunt for resources helps make the world a dangerous place, especially for the people who live with those resources, whatever their religion or ethnicity.

If we really want to end genocide in the world, we should debate which approach will best achieve that goal: True democracy within existing borders, (e.g. with respect to Israel and Palestine, a one-state approach), or nationalism, with its penchant for ethnic cleansing. How many of you know that in the days before the State of Israel was founded, the Arabs were driven off land that was to become Israel. How do we know all this? From the Hebrew press. In an article published 13 August 1993 in the Israeli daily Hadashot, writer Sarah Laybobis-Dar interviewed a number of Israelis who knew of the use of bacteriological weapons in 1948. One of those interviewed, Uri Mileshtin, an official historian for the Israeli Defense Forces, said that bacteria was used to poison the wells of every village emptied of its Arab inhabitants. According to Mileshtin, it was former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan who gave the order in 1948 to remove Arabs from their villages, bulldoze their homes, and render their water wells unusable with typhus and dysentery bacteria.8 As I said in an earlier article, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

The preservation of Israel as a Jewish state seems racist to me. And in some other context with some other people it might be openly called racist. Ethnic separatism is racist and a poor substitute for what we really need to finally eliminate genocide, ie. universal recognition of human rights. And in the end, what does Israel as a Jewish state say about the ability of the Jewish people to live and thrive in the world? The world is big; Israel is very small. If Israel is the only place where Jews can feel safe, albeit with a sense of safety derived from being armed to the teeth, including with the bomb, and with the US at its back, the Jews will have been ghettoized on the planet, only this time by their own hand. They will have created the very thing they fought to escape during the Nazi era.

The United States, under Democratic and Republican administrations, has been so committed to the survival of Israel as a Jewish state, that discussion of a one-state solution has been banished to the fringes. Considering the cost to America in money, reputation, and eventually lives, if the US goes to war with Iran, I think Americans ought to be having a lively debate as to the best way to eliminate genocide, starting with the Middle East. But Obama, as he indicated in his speech to AIPAC, will continue the course of the United States guaranteeing the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.9 So people who thought that a black man would be especially sensitive to racism will be disappointed in Obama’s Middle East policies, as they see the aspirations of the Palestinians to political and economic autonomy take a back seat to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.

Nuclear non-proliferation and Iran

Nuclear non-proliferation is certainly a worthy goal. But building up the image of Iran as a nuclear threat is not the way to achieve it. In his speech to AIPAC, Obama said “Iran has strengthened its position. Iran is now enriching uranium and has reportedly stockpiled 150 kilos of low-enriched uranium. Its support for terrorism and threats toward Israel have increased. Those are facts. They cannot be denied and I refuse to continue a policy that has made the United States and Israel less secure.10

The fact that cannot be denied is that Iran’s alleged support for terrorism and the increase of its threats against Israel is a non-sequitur to its stockpiling of 150 kilos of low-enriched uranium. Low-enriched uranium is the type used in civilian nuclear power plants to generate electricity. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to which Iran is a signatory, but Israel is not, recognizes the right of every nation to develop nuclear power for peaceful civilian uses.11 So far, the IAEA “has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran”12 although it is also urging Iran to implement all confidence building measure with respect to the peaceful intent of its nuclear program.13

The US has argued as early as 1998, during the Clinton Administration, that Iran has so much oil it doesn’t need civilian nuclear power and therefore must be enriching uranium to get the bomb.14 But running the country on nuclear power means Iran would have more oil to sell at a profit on the international market in later years as demand increasingly outstrips supply, even though Iran would have to import uranium. The one way to be sure that a nation was not using civilian nuclear power as a cover for a weapons program would be for all nations to agree to ban civilian nuclear power. But that is not about to happen.

Demands of the US and Western Europe that Iran allow Russia to enrich its uranium for civilian use is an insult to the sovereignty and dignity of Iran. This is the equivalent of being told, “Don’t try to use a knife yourself. Let an adult cut your meat for you.” All this talk about Iran trying to get the bomb is about selling another war, getting Americans to accept the idea that an attack on Iran (either by Israel or by the US) is necessary and therefore acceptable. You will be branded unpatriotic (and anti-Semitic) for not supporting the squandering of more American lives and money on a war against Iran.

President Ahmadinejad of Iran has made some very intemperate remarks about wiping Israel off the face of the earth, but we know that the real power in Iran is the Guardian Council, not the President. Ahmadinejad’s comments may be more bluster than threat, for home consumption. Iran is having a presidential election in 2009.

But let’s assume the worst for a moment. Suppose Iran really is trying to get the bomb. Why would it want to do such a thing? Maybe because Russia, Pakistan, India and Iran’s enemy Israel have the bomb? (Israel never officially answers the question of its nuclear status, but it’s been an open secret that Israel has the bomb since Mordecai Vanunu was prosecuted in the ’80s for letting that cat out of the bag). India, Pakistan and Israel are non-signatories to the NPT. Additionally, Israel’s guarantor, the US, has the bomb and has the ignominious distinction of being the only nation to actually use it. Might Iran be feeling a little insecure in that unstable region of the world, especially after it saw what happened to Saddam Hussein, even though he did not have weapons of mass destruction? The United States will never be able to effectively promote nuclear non-proliferation if it fails to see things from the point of view of its adversaries and if it continues to promote the use of force to get its way.

But maybe nuclear non-proliferation isn’t really the goal. Maybe the conquest of Iranian oil is the goal. And maybe the Iranians know that goal won’t change, whoever is in the White House as of January 20, 2009.

1 Transcript of Obama’s speech at AIPAC, NPR

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91150432

2 Robert Fisk: New actor on the same old stage, The Independent, Aug 2, 2008, http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-new-actor-on-the-same-old-stage-883270.html

3 Joe Conn, “The Christian Coalition: Born Again?” Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, Nov. 2002. http://www.au.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5492&abbr=cs_

4 “The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party: Dispensationalism.” Theocracy Watch, http://www.theocracywatch.org/christian_zionism_dispensationalism.htm

5 “The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party: Christian Zionism.” http://www.theocracywatch.org/ christian_zionism.htm

6 Baha Abushaqra, “The Heresy of Jewish Zionism”, http://www.bhol.co.il/forum/topic1.asp?topic_id=1315228

7 World War II, Encyclopedia, History.com, http://www.history.com/encyclopedia.do?articleId=226140

8 John F. Mahoney, “Israel’s Anti-Civilian Weapons,”January – March  2001 The Link – Volume 34, Issue 1, as reprinted on Americans for Middle East Understanding, http://www.ameu.org/printer.asp?iid=46&aid=81

9 “…any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” Transcript of Obama’s speech at AIPAC, NPR

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91150432

10 Transcript of Obama’s speech at AIPAC, NPR

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91150432

11 “Affirming the principle that the benefits of peaceful applications of nuclear technology, including any technological by-products which may be derived by nuclear-weapon States from the development of nuclear explosive devices, should be available for peaceful purposes to all Parties to the Treaty, whether nuclear-weapon or non-nuclear-weapon States,”… Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) http://www.un.org/events/npt2005/npttreaty.html

12 Summary, Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007) and 1803 (2008) in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Sept. 15, 2008,

p. 6.

13 Summary, Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement, p. 6.

14 Bushehr, Global Security.org http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iran/bushehr.htm

Posted in Election '08, Obama | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Obama: Change you can believe in…Not!

Posted by kelliasworld on October 30, 2008

[This article was originally published on Speaking Truth to Power. You can read the other parts by visiting that site or scrolling down this blog].

Part 3 – Israel and Iran

Which country comes foremost in US foreign policy, the United States or Israel? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. The Israeli-centric approach to US Middle East foreign policy, which is unfair to the Palestinians and dangerous to a United States dependent on foreign oil, will not change in an Obama Administration.

Which office is Obama running for?

On June 4, 2008, the day after Barack Obama clinched the Democratic nomination, he spoke to AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Here are some excerpts of that speech:

I want you to know that today I’ll be speaking from my heart and as a true friend of Israel. And I know that when I visit with AIPAC, I am among friends. Good Friends. Friends who share my strong commitment to make sure that they bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable today, tomorrow, and forever.

… I was drawn to the belief that you could sustain a spiritual, emotional and cultural identity. And I deeply understood the Zionist idea – that there is always a homeland at the center of our story. … We know the establishment of Israel was just and necessary, rooted in centuries of struggle and decades of patient work. But 60 years later, we know that we cannot relent, we cannot yield, and as president I will never compromise when it comes to Israel’s security….Those who threaten Israel threaten us. Israel has always faced these threats on the front lines. And I will bring to the White House an unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security. … Let me be clear. Israel’s security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable. The Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive, and that allows them to prosper – but any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.1

Great speech…for a candidate for Prime Minister of Israel.

Later in the summer Robert Fisk, renowned British journalist who has covered the Middle East for over 20 years, said: But hasn’t anyone realised that Obama has chosen for his advisers two if the most lamentable failures of US Middle East policy making? There, yet again, is Dennis Ross, a former prominent staff member of AIPAC, the most powerful Israeli lobby in Washington — yup, the very same AIPAC to which Obama grovelled last month – and the man who failed to make the Oslo agreement work. And there is Madeleine Albright who, as US ambassador the the UN, said that the price of half a million dead children under sanctions in Iraq was “worth it”, and who later announced that Israel was “under siege”. This must be the only time – ever – that a US politician thought Palestinian tanks were on the streets of Tel Aviv.2

Understand that Zionism is a political philosophy and is not the same as Judaism, which is a religion. One does not have to be Jewish to be a Zionist. In fact, Christian Zionists are prominent as supporters of and elected officials from the Republican Party.3 Some Christian Zionists, particularly the Dispensationalists,–the late Rev. Jerry Falwell was one–want Israel to claim all of Palestine because they believe that this is a necessary precursor to the Second Coming of Christ.4 However, these Christian Zionists also believe that the Jews and all other non-Christians will be condemned on Judgment Day. So they don’t have any particular love for the Jewish people.

Jewish Zionism stems from the anti-Semitism Jews have faced in Europe and elsewhere. Jewish Zionists see Israel as the one place Jews can be safe.5 But not all Jews are Zionists, and in fact, Zionism is actually considered by many Jews to be a heresy.6 So being Anti-Zionist does not mean one is Anti-Semitic.

There are two kinds of Holocaust deniers. There are the fools and propagandists, like white supremacists and Iran’s President Ahmadinejad who claim it never happened or that far fewer Jews were killed than the history books say. There is certainly more than enough documentation of the atrocities to prove these fools wrong.

But there is a second, less publicized but more pernicious, form of Holocaust denial. One that many of us are guilty of. It’s the denial that overemphasizes the tragedy of the Jews and fails to comprehend the full scope of Hitler’s evil. While the Nazis made the Jews the scapegoats for Germany’s economic problems post WWI, Hitler also persecuted Slavs, Roma (Gypsies), trade unionists, Communists, homosexuals, who were marked with a pink triangle as Jews were marked with a yellow Star of David, and the disabled. He also thought blacks were subhuman, and while there were not many blacks in Europe, Rommel “The Desert Fox” operated in North Africa, as the Nazis desperately searched for oil with which to fuel their war machine, and fascist ally Italy held Ethiopia as a colony.

While we often hear about the 6 million Jews who were killed in the Holocaust, we seldom hear about the over 20 million citizens of the Soviet Union, military and civilian, who died during WWII,7 and we hear even less about the atrocities committed by the Japanese allies of the Nazis in the Philippines, Korea, China, Indonesia and other places in Asia.

And, of course, in 1938, Hitler felt confident that he could eliminate the Jews because “no one remembers the Armenians” who, to this day, are seeking recognition for their genocide in waning days of the Ottoman Empire.

US Presidents of both parties, and their advisers, for too long have acted as if the Jewish people were the only ones ever to be victims of genocide. But if humanity is to learn the true lesson of the Holocaust, we must remember that other peoples were genocided before WWII, and have been genocided since WWII, and that others besides the Jews were genocided during WWII. The true lesson is that “Never again” must be “Never Again” for everybody, or else it will be “here we go again” for somebody. The goal should be to eliminate genocide from human behavior, not to guarantee of survival of one set of genocide victims above all others.

For “Never Again” to be realized, the dominator paradigm of human relations must be overthrown in favor of a system in which the rights of all people, as individuals and as group members, are respected. There are at least two competing ways of achieving this outcome. One way is through true democracy in which there is a “one person-one vote” principle and where various groups can speak, publish and educate in their own languages, worship, or not, as they please, band together in whatever political parties they wish, and engage in economic activity without discrimination.

The other, which seems to be the way the world is going, is for each people to have its own land. But the struggle for independence or autonomy is a bloody one, full of ethnic cleansing (e.g. Serbia) or acts of repression by the dominant culture over the minority (e.g. Tibet and China). Israel is but one famous example of this “one people on its own land” approach, which, frankly, is outdated in places where colonial powers have redrawn borders to weaken the power of local ethnic groups to resist. (This includes the United States in its treatment of Native American nations). And that “to each his own” solution is never equally applied. The United States, whichever party is in power, has an overweening concern for the survival of Israel as a Jewish state; the Palestinians are an afterthought, the Kurds, who are the largest ethnic group in the world to not have its own state, are hardly thought of at all. And a worldwide list of peoples with their own nationalistic aspirations, ignored or trampled on by larger powers, is fairly long, indeed.

Why is Israel so special to the United States? For some it may be the idea that the establishment of Greater Israel fulfills a biblical prophecy, for others it may be guilt over the Holocaust and the US failure to help Jews trying to escape the Nazis. But I think a large part of it may be that Israel gives the United States a firm pied-a-terre in the oil-rich Middle East. The worldwide search for resources we can control is at the heart of US foreign policy. Or to put it simply, “what’s our oil doing under their sand?” Our hunt for resources helps make the world a dangerous place, especially for the people who live with those resources, whatever their religion or ethnicity.

If we really want to end genocide in the world, we should debate which approach will best achieve that goal: True democracy within existing borders, (e.g. with respect to Israel and Palestine, a one-state approach), or nationalism, with its penchant for ethnic cleansing. How many of you know that in the days before the State of Israel was founded, the Arabs were driven off land that was to become Israel. How do we know all this? From the Hebrew press. In an article published 13 August 1993 in the Israeli daily Hadashot, writer Sarah Laybobis-Dar interviewed a number of Israelis who knew of the use of bacteriological weapons in 1948. One of those interviewed, Uri Mileshtin, an official historian for the Israeli Defense Forces, said that bacteria was used to poison the wells of every village emptied of its Arab inhabitants. According to Mileshtin, it was former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan who gave the order in 1948 to remove Arabs from their villages, bulldoze their homes, and render their water wells unusable with typhus and dysentery bacteria.8 As I said in an earlier article, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

The preservation of Israel as a Jewish state seems racist to me. And in some other context with some other people it might be openly called racist. Ethnic separatism is racist and a poor substitute for what we really need to finally eliminate genocide, ie. universal recognition of human rights. And in the end, what does Israel as a Jewish state say about the ability of the Jewish people to live and thrive in the world? The world is big; Israel is very small. If Israel is the only place where Jews can feel safe, albeit with a sense of safety derived from being armed to the teeth, including with the bomb, and with the US at its back, the Jews will have been ghettoized on the planet, only this time by their own hand. They will have created the very thing they fought to escape during the Nazi era.

The United States, under Democratic and Republican administrations, has been so committed to the survival of Israel as a Jewish state, that discussion of a one-state solution has been banished to the fringes. Considering the cost to America in money, reputation, and eventually lives, if the US goes to war with Iran, I think Americans ought to be having a lively debate as to the best way to eliminate genocide, starting with the Middle East. But Obama, as he indicated in his speech to AIPAC, will continue the course of the United States guaranteeing the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.9 So people who thought that a black man would be especially sensitive to racism will be disappointed in Obama’s Middle East policies, as they see the aspirations of the Palestinians to political and economic autonomy take a back seat to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.

Nuclear non-proliferation and Iran

Nuclear non-proliferation is certainly a worthy goal. But building up the image of Iran as a nuclear threat is not the way to achieve it. In his speech to AIPAC, Obama said “Iran has strengthened its position. Iran is now enriching uranium and has reportedly stockpiled 150 kilos of low-enriched uranium. Its support for terrorism and threats toward Israel have increased. Those are facts. They cannot be denied and I refuse to continue a policy that has made the United States and Israel less secure.10

The fact that cannot be denied is that Iran’s alleged support for terrorism and the increase of its threats against Israel is a non-sequitur to its stockpiling of 150 kilos of low-enriched uranium. Low-enriched uranium is the type used in civilian nuclear power plants to generate electricity. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to which Iran is a signatory, but Israel is not, recognizes the right of every nation to develop nuclear power for peaceful civilian uses.11 So far, the IAEA “has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran”12 although it is also urging Iran to implement all confidence building measure with respect to the peaceful intent of its nuclear program.13

The US has argued as early as 1998, during the Clinton Administration, that Iran has so much oil it doesn’t need civilian nuclear power and therefore must be enriching uranium to get the bomb.14 But running the country on nuclear power means Iran would have more oil to sell at a profit on the international market in later years as demand increasingly outstrips supply, even though Iran would have to import uranium. The one way to be sure that a nation was not using civilian nuclear power as a cover for a weapons program would be for all nations to agree to ban civilian nuclear power. But that is not about to happen.

Demands of the US and Western Europe that Iran allow Russia to enrich its uranium for civilian use is an insult to the sovereignty and dignity of Iran. This is the equivalent of being told, “Don’t try to use a knife yourself. Let an adult cut your meat for you.” All this talk about Iran trying to get the bomb is about selling another war, getting Americans to accept the idea that an attack on Iran (either by Israel or by the US) is necessary and therefore acceptable. You will be branded unpatriotic (and anti-Semitic) for not supporting the squandering of more American lives and money on a war against Iran.

President Ahmadinejad of Iran has made some very intemperate remarks about wiping Israel off the face of the earth, but we know that the real power in Iran is the Guardian Council, not the President. Ahmadinejad’s comments may be more bluster than threat, for home consumption. Iran is having a presidential election in 2009.

But let’s assume the worst for a moment. Suppose Iran really is trying to get the bomb. Why would it want to do such a thing? Maybe because Russia, Pakistan, India and Iran’s enemy Israel have the bomb? (Israel never officially answers the question of its nuclear status, but it’s been an open secret that Israel has the bomb since Mordecai Vanunu was prosecuted in the 80s for letting that cat out of the bag). India, Pakistan and Israel are non-signatories to the NPT. Additionally, Israel’s guarantor, the US, has the bomb and has the ignominious distinction of being the only nation to actually use it. Might Iran be feeling a little insecure in that unstable region of the world, especially after it saw what happened to Saddam Hussein, even though he did not have weapons of mass destruction? The United States will never be able to effectively promote nuclear non-proliferation if it fails to see things from the point of view of its adversaries and if it continues to promote the use of force to get its way.

But maybe nuclear non-proliferation isn’t really the goal. Maybe the conquest of Iranian oil is the goal. And maybe the Iranians know that goal won’t change, whoever is in the White House as of January 20, 2009.

1 Transcript of Obama’s speech at AIPAC, NPR

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91150432

2 Robert Fisk: New actor on the same old stage, The Independent, Aug 2, 2008, http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-new-actor-on-the-same-old-stage-883270.html

3 Joe Conn, “The Christian Coalition: Born Again?” Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, Nov. 2002. http://www.au.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5492&abbr=cs_

4 “The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party: Dispensationalism.” Theocracy Watch, http://www.theocracywatch.org/christian_zionism_dispensationalism.htm

5 “The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party: Christian Zionism.” http://www.theocracywatch.org/ christian_zionism.htm

6 Baha Abushaqra, “The Heresy of Jewish Zionism”, http://www.bhol.co.il/forum/topic1.asp?topic_id=1315228

7 World War II, Encyclopedia, History.com, http://www.history.com/encyclopedia.do?articleId=226140

8 John F. Mahoney, “Israel’s Anti-Civilian Weapons,”January – March 2001 The Link – Volume 34, Issue 1, as reprinted on Americans for Middle East Understanding, http://www.ameu.org/printer.asp?iid=46&aid=81

9 “…any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” Transcript of Obama’s speech at AIPAC, NPR

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91150432

10 Transcript of Obama’s speech at AIPAC, NPR

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91150432

11 “Affirming the principle that the benefits of peaceful applications of nuclear technology, including any technological by-products which may be derived by nuclear-weapon States from the development of nuclear explosive devices, should be available for peaceful purposes to all Parties to the Treaty, whether nuclear-weapon or non-nuclear-weapon States,”… Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) http://www.un.org/events/npt2005/npttreaty.html

12 Summary, Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007) and 1803 (2008) in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Sept. 15, 2008,

p. 6.

13 Summary, Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement, p. 6.

14 Bushehr, Global Security.org http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iran/bushehr.htm

Posted in Election '08, Obama | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »