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July 30, 2006

Disgust, Dismay, Denial

The Sunday morning talk shows have made me lose my appetite.

Blame The Victims seems to be the mantra of the American intelligentsia.

Even while reporting the atrocious murder of over 50 civilians in Qana, Lebanon, they continue to be apologists for Israeli aggression and the USG collusion in the murder of innocent Lebanese.

Let me be clear: "there is something fundamentally wrong when there are more dead children than armed men," in the prescient words of UN Under-Secretary-General Egeland.

An immediate unconditional ceasefire is absolutely imperative.

I am tired of refuting the lies of the US administration and its Israeli proxy army.

Posted by cj at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2006

"There is something fundamentally wrong when there are more dead children than armed men."

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland made that criticism and was quoted in the LAT.

And therein lies the fundamental problem of Israel's continuous war against its neighbors. Israel and its supporters claim they have no partners for peace - but when you show complete disregard for the sacred nature of human life why should anyone partner with you? And when your "partnership" means "accept that we're going to take whatever territory we want and deny responsibility for the millions of Palestinian refugees that our military forced out of their homes when we were claiming this land for ourselves," how can you be taken seriously?

And why, why, why is the mainstream US media coverage so biased? Every time they mention that Iran and Syrian are suspected of arming Hezbollah, they simply MUST state that the US arms Israel, including "emergency" shipments After Israel Started Killing Lebanese and Palestinian Civilians!

Bush and Blair cobbled together a farce of a peace plan yesterday.
The UN is calling for an unconditional 72 hour cessation of violence to allow humanitarian aid into southern Lebanon and for the militants to try some diplomacy. Guess which plan gets more play in the US press?
After a marathon cabinet meeting, Lebanon suggested terms for a cease fire with support from the two main Lebanese political parties both Hezbollah and Amal. This is basically a reiteration of the proposal Lebanon made in Rome last week, with the significant addition of the support of the political parties. Per usual, the Israeli government rejected the plan out of hand and mocked its legitimacy.

"Israel Rejects Peace Offer: Hezbollah signs on to Lebanon's proposal for a cease-fire and prisoner swap, but disarmament is not included. The pace of diplomacy quickens by Rone Tempest and Laura King with contributions from Alissa J. Rubin, Peter Wallsten and Paul Richter in the LAT.

"Bush, Blair Seek U.N. Force In South Lebanon as Buffer," by Michael Abramowitz and Robin Wright with contributions from Colum Lynch and Josh White in WaPo.

"Bush and Blair Push Plan to End Mideast Fighting," by Jim Rutenberg Helene Cooper with contributions by Greg Myre in the NYT.

"U.N. Humanitarian Chief Asks Mideast Truce," by Paul Berkhardt of the AP in WaPo.

"Peace Train," Today's Papers by Barbara Raab in Slate.

Posted by cj at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)

One dead in hate-crime shooting at Jewish center

It is with sadness that I report that the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle was the target of a hate crime yesterday. One woman was murdered and five other women were wounded when a man claiming to hate Israel forced his way into the center. The shooter called 911 and was arrested on the scene.

6 Shot, 1 Fatally at Seattle Jewish Center, by AP via ABC News

"Fatal Seattle Jewish center shooting a "hate crime"," by Daisuke Wakabayashi of Reuters, via Yahoo News

"One dead in hate-crime shooting at Jewish center. Suspect in custody; three women in critical condition," by CNN

cross-posted from the WILPF blog.

Posted by cj at 1:00 AM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2006

Were You Dressing Sexy? The Global War On Women

Between the US Senate passing that crappy law "for parental rights" that denies women access to health services based on whether or not they're willing to forfeit their individual right to health service to the great moralistic cause of family unity, and the following article from Peru, it is time to take a stand.

Violence Against Women is a Human Problem. All people must denounce this violence and must work to end it.

If you think someone deserves to be raped based on their choice of clothing, do you also believe someone deserves to be beaten up for wearing a t-shirt that supports a racist regime? Freedom of expression must bend all ways - further, one person's "sexy" is another person's work clothes. Nothing a woman says or does can justify assaulting her. Period. End of discussion.

And now a word from Peru..."Some 51 percent of women in Lima and 69 percent of women in the southern Andean city of Cuzco said they have been victims of sexual or physical violence[.]" These numbers are shocking to me, especially since I recall the missives that went off on the beauty of those cities from a friend last summer. Turns out, those cities offer much for male foreigners in the way of natural wonders, and little in the way of safety for their own population.

Just as disturbing is the fact that doctors refuse to acknowledge rape when they detect it in medical exams, because they don't want to be bothered by the lengthy (2+ years) court process to follow. Instead of doing no harm, Peruvian doctors are perpetuating violence by their refusal to stand up to the system.

The despair and hopelessness of poverty and underemployment is blamed for Peru's surge in violence. Yet, other poverty-stricken countries do not suffer from this catastrophe. I believe the confluence of Cultural (machismo attitudes), Legal (actually asking the "were you dressed sexy?" question in a court of law), Political (before President-elect Garcia spoke up, were was the political will to change the situation?), and Economic forces that have led to this crisis. The question is: will the world sit by and let it continue? Unfortunately, I think the answer is yes. The "global community" has such a short attention span and such difficulty dealing with more than one issue / region at a time, that there's no way for this important article to receive the attention it deserves.

"Peru Confronts Escalating Violence Against Women," by Isabel Ordonez in Reuters via Yahoo News

found via Feminist Peace Network

Posted by cj at 7:16 AM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2006

Building the Progressive Majority

Last Thursday, I attended a Symposium on Building the Progressive Majority in 06 and 08, sponsored by the Committees of Correspondence on Democracy and Socialism. Reverend Morris, the ED of Community Renewal Society - a progressive faith-based organization - spoke at the Symposium. The following entry is taken from my notes from his speech.

He said we are attempting to defeat a radically reactionary political mafia. So what are the common elements to bring together disparate groups?

Winning requires voter registration, identification, and mobilization.

What are the values that we share?

We need to appeal to a broader electorate with the message that this is an unjust war and an unjustified war.

Don't Vote Your Fears, Vote Your Faith: the US has lost its way.

We need to articulate and define "the American dream." If we allow fear to reign it leads to an acceptance of the "war" on terrorism.

Posted by cj at 6:46 PM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2006

What I Believe

I wrote this to my aunt:

Israel can bomb the hell out of its neighbors because of the approval of the US government, and most importantly, because the US government has made Israel the most technologically advanced military in the Middle East, including nuclear weapons. Israel's current destruction of the entire civil infrastructure of Lebanon, and mass murder of innocent Lebanese civilians is a grossly disproportionate response to Hezbollah. Further, the idea that Jewish lives are somehow superior to Arab lives is racist. And no historic persecution in the world can defend the 39 year occupation of Palestine.
And she asked, "who's side are you on?"

Here is my response:

I'm on the side of Peace.

I believe Israel must accept its neighbors as its neighbors - there can be no one sided ending of the Arab-Israel conflict.

The current crisis is a one-sided war of aggression by the right-wing racist Israeli government.

I believe in the sovereignty of all nations, including Palestine and Lebanon.
I know that Hamas was initially funded by Israel and the US as a counterpoint to the non-religious Fatah movement.
I know that Hezbollah started as a resistance movement to the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon.

I believe in the power of peace.
I believe that an immediate, unconditional cease fire is needed.
The majority of world opinion stands firmly against Israel and the US - Lebanon is in ruins; Israel is practicing collective punishment which is a recognized war crime. There can be no peace through bombings. Further, the humanitarian crisis continues in Gaza - caused by the cruel destruction of its main power plant by the Israeli army; which has left Gazans without power or potable water (since power is needed to filter the water supply).

I believe that a two state solution is possible, if the Israelis accept a real peace process. I believe that all settlements in the West Bank must be abandoned. I believe that the separation wall must be dismantled. I believe that Israel must stop stealing water and fertile land from its stateless neighbors, the Palestinians.

These are my political beliefs.

As a Jew, my religious beliefs impel me to denounce a state that offers special treatment to one religion over another. I have no right to citizenship in Israel. Further, I reject the notion that Jewish people inherently deserve more protection or support under Israeli law than any other citizens of Israel. These I consider my religious beliefs.

Posted by cj at 9:01 PM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2006

War Update

Obviously, things are happening in Lebanon and Gaza too quickly for me to write with authority on them.

Michael Hawkins at Spontaneous Arisings seems to be doing a good job of blogging about the war.

Nader wrote a letter to Bush and published it on Common Dreams

Inter Press Service Coverage of "Holy Land, Unholy War"

"Israel Violates Law on US Weapons in the Middle East," by Thalif Deen, IPS

Portside, the left side of the internet

"Today's Papers: Exodus," by Eric Umansky in Slate

Posted by cj at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

Blog About Geneva Conventions, Get Fired

A woman with top level security clearance who worked for a CIA contractor had her security clearance revoked and was fired for registering her agreement that the Geneva Conventions should apply to the CIA on her intranet-must-have-security-clearance-to-read blog.

The story is ridiculous. It is a good distraction from war coverage.

"Top Secret World Loses Blogger: CIA Contractor Is Fired When Internal Post Crosses the Line," by Dana Priest in today's WaPo

Posted by cj at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2006

Crisis Update

The Israeli lobby has struck again. Congress overwhelming passed H Res 921, which basically gives Israel carte blanche to murder its neighbors. The Congressman representing my district spoke in support of the horrific legislation. Here is my response to him -

Dear Congressman Emanual:

As a Jewish constituent and Program Chair of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, US Section (WILPF US), I am disheartened by your misunderstanding of the current war in Lebanon / Palestine / Israel. In particular, your comments supporting H Res 921 deeply saddened me.

Nothing that militant groups in Gaza or Lebanon have done in recent weeks can justify Israel's use of collective punishment, murder of civilians, and bombing of civilian infrastructure. I believe that the US government's unconditional support of Israel's occupation of Palestine and aggression against its neighbors seriously weakens this country's effectiveness as a global leader for human rights and democracy.

On a separate note, I am disturbed that you insist I post my address information through a non-secure internet site. You are exposing my personal information to identity theft and I hope you will rectify this problem soon.

Below is a copy of WILPF's Statement Denouncing Escalation of Military Aggression in Lebanon, Gaza, and Israel. I realize that we completely disagree on this issue; but I ask that you take the time to read the words of the oldest women's peace organization. We have 37 sections around the world, including sisters in Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon.

With hope for a cease fire,
Cynthia J. Minster

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom

Denounces Escalation of Military Aggression in Lebanon, Israel and Gaza

The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom deplores the escalation of violence in Lebanon, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, especially Gaza, and in Israel.

We condemn the targeting of civilians and destruction of civilian infrastructure by all parties and, in particular, the excessive disproportionate military retaliation by Israel as violations of international law. The widespread bombing in Gaza and Lebanon; the air, sea and land blockade of Lebanon; the destruction of electricity and water supplies in Gaza; and the missile attacks on Israeli cities make the possibility for solutions more difficult as hostilities spiral out of control. We denounce the use of force. There is no military solution to the problems in the region.

We recognize that the current dangerous and volatile situation is the direct result of Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian lands and its relentless destruction of Palestinian infrastructure, particularly in Gaza where a humanitarian crisis is growing among the 1.4 million inhabitants.

Therefore, we call upon the United States to join the rest of the international community in denouncing Israel's escalation of this conflict.

We call for an immediate ceasefire and halt to the retaliatory bombing, killing and destruction. We appeal to all parties to return to the political process and earnestly negotiate permanent solutions.

We appeal for cooperation with the UN special Advisors team sent to the region by the UN Secretary General and for adherence to UN Resolutions and international and humanitarian law especially relating to the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom appeals to Israel to cease the military stranglehold on Gaza and to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, to end the blockade and stop the siege of Lebanon and the destruction of civilian infrastructure. We appeal to all parties to accept a ceasefire, to release illegally held Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners and Israeli soldiers, and to begin negotiating a just and lasting peace that will bring safety to the civilian populations of Lebanon, Palestine and Israel.

We call for an international peace conference convened by the United Nations and that is based on the recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine within the pre-1967 borders established by the 1949 cease fire agreements with eventually mutually agreed adjustments.

We call on the Palestinian National Authority, the United States, the British, Israeli, Iranian and Syrian governments, the Arab League, and the European Union to search for peaceful solutions that protect the lives of all people in the Middle East Region and world-wide.

"House Overwhelmingly Backs Israel in Votes," by Anne Plummer Flaherty via AP / Yahoo News
Final Roll Call Results for H Res 921

Posted by cj at 10:26 PM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2006

Gaza Is Burning...Where Is Your Outrage?

Enough with the Israeli apologists. Their 39 year occupation of Palestine MUST END. The US MUST DENOUNCE ISRAEL'S AGGRESSIVE ASSAULT ON ITS NEIGHBORS!

As a Jewish American, it disgusts me that the president of my own country is yet again blaming the victims and siding with the horrific right-wing political "leaders" of Israel. Shame on the US. Shame on Israel.

And please, do not forget that Gaza is Burning. It's easier for newspapers to pretend to report on a war between internationally-recognized nations - even though their understanding of Hezbollah is woefully inaccurate - but it is a black eye on the media that they've stopped reporting the siege of Gaza.

Does a siege become less horrific just because it enters its third week? Because no one recognizes their right to exist independently?

Go to Rafah Today for pictures of the siege and commentary from Gaza.

Go to the WILPF Blog for the most recent WILPF US Action Alert.

Posted by cj at 5:55 PM | Comments (0)

July 3, 2006

Air Force Spending $450K to recreate Technorati

Think Progress linked to the Foreign Policy magazine blog note about this asinine Air Force project.

Here's the deal: your taxpayer money is being spent to build a system for understanding the relevance, specificity, timeliness, and credibility (RSTC) of blog postings. The scientists in charge of this slush fund are going to use these new fangled links to determine what bloggers are talking about.

Funny thing is, Technorati already does a damn good job of that.
Then there's one of the early tracking systems, created at The Truth Laid Bear.
And there's the Blog Search Engine.
Let's not forget the Open Directory Project.

So tell me again what the Air Force is wasting $450,000 on?

As the copyrighted WILPF statement goes,
It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.

cross-posted from WILPF US Membership Blog.

Posted by cj at 10:01 PM | Comments (0)

The World Looks Away, Israel Continues to Attempt to Obliterate its Neighbor

It is vitally important to take media bias into account when trying to learn about the situation in Palestine / Israel. Whether you're listening to mainstream media (aka Israeli apologists) or Alternative Bulwarks (aka pro-Palestinian hardliners), you can't get away from bias in your coverage of Israel / Palestine, so you must learn to either add your own bias to the mix, or wade through the crap.

As a Jewish American woman who went through years of Hebrew School taught by Israeli women who constantly showed an undivided map of "Israel" as "our homeland," it has been a difficult, painful road to my current political beliefs. It is particularly difficult to try to explain my positions to sister Jews; so many of my people seem to have blinders on and refuse to accept that All People Are Human. Their blatant racism is appalling; but really nothing new in the Western world. After all this so-called "war on terror" is really about imposing Western "free" trade capitalism / Christianity on the world.

At the same time, I refuse to accept the racism of Palestinian solidarity activists. I do not believe all Israelis or all Jews want to see Palestine / Palestinians destroyed. I simply cannot believe that every member of my religious / ethnic identity has lost the path of justice articulated by our richest traditions. After all, Gush Shalom, the Israeli peace bloc proves that it is a lie to call all Israelis "supporters of genocide."

What we need is to step back from rhetorical brinkmanship and unite around our desire to keep militants on all sides in check: Israel's use of collective punishment is a war crime, as is the abduction / threats to kill a soldier.

Going back to my original media bias point. Here are some recent examples.

Today, PRI's The World interviewed two people on the ethical implications of Israel's destruction of civilian infrastructure, killing of civilians, and abduction of democratically-elected Palestinian politicians. While the interview attempted to actually ask questions (a novel concept for some), she chose to only question a former Israeli army officer and a Western "ethics" expert. Of course, the militant Israeli denounced all Palestinians and held them responsible for the "actions" of their "elected leadership." No one questioned whether it was valid to hold the PA responsible for the actions of militants who work outside the framework of the political process. And the "ethicist" actually said that since we're "fighting terrorists" that it is natural and ethical for us to throw out all rules of war, including the Geneva Conventions, because the West is fighting terrorists who refuse to acknowledge / abide by those rules.

Gee, with ethicists like this, who needs demagogues?

And why didn't we just throw out the rule of law when The State started to fight gangs in this country? After all, those gangs refuse to accept the rule of law, so why should we? Give me a freakin break!!! And please explain how two anti-Arab interviewees equals a well-balanced report?!?!

On the flip side, consider the Alternative Bulwark, Democracy Now!. Last Wednesday, a "debate" was hosted between a founder of Electronic Intifada, a former Israeli Foreign Minister, and a physician/community activist in Gaza. Instead of focusing her guests on the current crisis, Amy Goodman instead chose to allow Ali Abunimah (of Eletronic Intifada) to ramble on about Israel being an apartheid state and only asked Shlomo Ben-Ami (the former Israeli foreign minister) to respond to that assertion. This is typical of Goodman's "interview" style. Instead of asking questions, she says "talk to us about the situation." Talk to us? How lazy a "question" can you get?!?! Or my favorite rejoinder "Respond to what X just said." And this was followed up with the obvious description of the humanitarian crisis being faced by Mona El-Farra, the physician in Gaza.

If all Goodman wanted to do was Demonize Israeli Society and rally her listeners around the Palestinian solidarity movement, her "interview" style would be acceptable. But by pretending to be impartial, and by having thousands (millions?) of followers who hail her as the Best Thing to Happen to Media Since Sliced Bread, her partisan choices are extremely dangerous. After all, it's difficult enough for progressives to find the words that can be heard / understood by their stuck in the mud (aka "mainstream") neighbors. By not pursuing reasonable debate on her program, Goodman seems to be saying "agree with me; we're the righteous; let us mock anyone who dares to debate us."

This was the exact same tone she took last Thursday during a "debate" titled: "AIPAC v. Norman Finkelstein."

Regardless of the media bias, certain facts remain:
1. Palestinian militants whose activities are entirely separate from the democratically-elected Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, kidnapped an Israeli soldier and murdered two others last week.
2. Israel's response has been a disproportionate use of collective punishment that must be unequivocally condemned by the international community, including the United States.
3. Humanitarian aid was desperately needed before the current, ongoing incursion by Israel into Palestinian territory. It is imperative that food and medical supplies be immediately sent to the OPT. (Occupied Palestinian Territories)

Posted by cj at 2:45 PM | Comments (0)

July 1, 2006

WILPF on the Front Page of the LA Times

WILPFers were out in force to support one of our own, MacGregor Eddy, at her federal trespassing trial in Santa Barbara earlier this year. MacGregor is a member of the DISARM! Dismantle the War Economy! leadership team. Read her sentencing statement here.

This protest was noticed by the kooks at the California state office of Homeland Security and reported in today's lead story at the LA Times.

While it is a shame the government is wasting our taxpayer money spying on us, it comes as no surprise. WILPF recently filed a FOIA request. Our last one, 25 years ago, brought us 23 boxes of information dating back to 1923.

What can you do to help the peace and justice movement from further incursions on our civil rights? Join raging grannies, radical cheerleaders, and proud new parents in making peace a reality: Join WILPF!

cross-posted from the WILPF US Members Blog.

Posted by cj at 6:45 PM | Comments (0)

WILPF Action Alert

On Thursday, June 29, WILPF US issued an action alert to force the USG to unequivocally condemn Israel's current use of collective punishment.

A hat tip to acting ED Tamara James and the WCUSP leadership team for their timeliness in releasing the action alert. (Technical note: editing errors have been fixed in the email version of the alert and will be uploaded to our website next week.)

In case you're wondering, Prez Bush's email address is [email protected]. Veep Cheney is [email protected], and SecState Rice will only accept your comments via her online form.

whitehouse.com used to be a parody site, back in the stone ages of 1999 when the importance of precisely typing in URLs was pointed out to my CompSci 110 class. Alas, nowadays it's just a boring real estate site.

Back to the major point: Israel recently joined the US in acting like a pariah state, disregarding all international law, destroying the power supply of its neighbors, and taking democratically-elected politicians hostage. Show your outrage by contacting your local media outlets, your government representatives, and your sister activists. Challenge US Policy on Israel / Palestine: JOIN WILPF!

Posted by cj at 5:40 PM | Comments (0)