Thursday, November 29, 2012

JUST IN: The State of Palestine just gained UN status

found image at

Although a very small step -- it's long overdue -- many many celebrate this day when the world (along with many Americans, Jewish and Israelis included) voted yes to justice...

Of course, sadly, the US is one of the 9 nations out of 138 to vote "no"...Once more, the USA blindly shows it's poor world leadership...even with a nonmember observer state status...


ADC Congratulates Palestine

Washington, DC | | November 29, 2012 -- The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) congratulates the State of Palestine on gaining United Nations status. In a vote just moments ago, the U.N. member states voted in favor of conferring nonmember observer state status to Palestine. The vote passed with 138 countries voting “yes,” 9 voting “no,” and 41 countries abstaining from the vote.

The United States is one of the 9 countries that voted “no.” ADC is troubled by the unchanging and unwavering US policy to blindly support Israel. It is ADC’s hope that the US will join the international community in recognizing the Palestinian people and their right to be seated next to all other global voices.

ADC is committed to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and any peaceful resolution the Palestinian Israeli conflict requires: the dismantlement of the Israeli Wall, the cessation and dismantlement of all settlements, an end to Israeli occupation, the creation of a viable and independent Palestinian state, equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the recognition and implementation of the right of return of the Palestinian refugees.


NOTE TO EDITORS: The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which is non-profit, non-sectarian and non-partisan, is the largest grassroots Arab-American civil rights and civil liberties organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980 by former Senator James Abourezk. ADC has a national network of chapters and members in all 50 states.

FIND this item here

Davids Who Oppose Israel's Use of King David

These photos were found at home/daily page

Please send this invitation to all Davids in your email program and ask them to sign.

If your name is David, you are invited to sign onto the following statement. Please send your name and 1-word bio and nation to

Davids Oppose Israel's Use of King David

One tool being employed by the government of Israel to evict Palestinian people from their homes is the claim that doing so will allow archaeologists to discover historical evidence of the existence of King David. Such evidence is intended to strengthen the claim that Jews are returning to land occupied by Jews millennia ago.

Yet the living people moved off their land by Israeli expansion are denied any right to return to it.

The King David in the book of Samuel is greedy and cruel, thoughtless of the pain he causes others. David is punished for his actions, but appears to learn nothing from the punishment. The lesson that Nathan attempts to teach David, to condemn evil actions in oneself that one would condemn in others, is a difficult lesson to learn.

We encourage the government of Israel to try.

David R. Applebaum, professor, USA

David Bacon, photographer, USA

David Barkham, film-production-designer, South Africa

David Berrian, videographer, USA

David Cobb, activist, USA

David Earnhardt, filmmaker, USA

David Finke, printer, USA

David Graeber, anthropologist, UK
David Scott Halenda, rambler, USA

David Hartsough, activist, USA

David Lindorff, reporter, USA

David McGiffen, atheist, UK

David McReynolds, activist, USA

David Meserve, activist, USA

David Norris, city council member, USA

David Rovics, musician, USA

David Rubinson, activist, France

David Schaich, physicist, USA

David Solnit, author, USA

David Swanson, author, USA

[growing list of Davids]

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui: Editorials & Events

First see: "A Grotesque Competition" By Andrew Purcell

A poll has recently been published in the Ummat newspaper asking the readers to choose between Aafia and Malala.

"Mazloom kon Aafia ya Malala?" To read the article with the poll (in Urdu) Click here

To read the rest of Purcell's Op Ed Click here

Be sure to look around in the same website for much more information on Dr. Aafia.


Sara Flounders, of the International Action Center (IAC), and former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney will be departing in a few days for Pakistan regarding Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. We wish them a safe and successful journey to and from our sister's turbulent homeland. Please sign and pass on the new IAC generated petition for Aafia below.

SIGN the Petition for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui! Repatriate Aafia to Pakistan! SIGN THE PETITION AT

OR GO here

As part of a continuing campaign to secure the repatriation of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui to Pakistan, former U.S. Congress member Cynthia McKinney and International Action Center Co-Director Sara Flounders will travel to Pakistan Dec 2 to 9. Their visit is not the first delegation. It is part of continuing series of meetings organized by Dr Fowzia Siddiqui, Aafia Siddiqui's sister, and the Free Aafia Movement to help to strengthen the international campaign for the release of this Pakistani political prisoner held for years in solitary confinement and sentenced in 2010 to 86 years in U.S. federal prison.

A growing movement in Pakistan is seeking commitments not to allow the transfer to the U.S. of any person held in Pakistani custody until and unless Aafia Siddiqui is returned to Pakistan.

Aafia Siddiqui holds a place in the hearts of people of conscience internationally irrespective of their faith, nationality or location. There is immense international outrage about the conditions of Aafia's imprisonment, which represents the U.S. policy of secret rendition and the many disappeared and missing in Pakistan. Aafia Siddiqui and her family have repeatedly maintained that she and her three young children were kidnapped in March 2003; while in U.S. custody, Aafia was subsequently tortured and held in isolation for 5 years in Afghanistan.

In February 2011, the International Justice Network published a report revealing shocking new evidence that Aafia had been abducted in Karachi by Pakistani security forces in March 2003. The government of Pakistan has never denied the allegations set forth in the report. The U.S. has denied and ignored their involvement in Aafia's kidnapping and imprisonment; however on January 23, 2012, Khurshid Kasuri, former foreign minister of Pakistan under General Musharraf, admitted handing over Dr. Aafia to the U.S. and expressed his regret.

It is important to know that:

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is a citizen of Pakistan. She was not charged with committing any crime on U.S. soil, nor is she a U.S. citizen. She should not have been extradited to the U.S. or put on trial in the U.S.

Her trial in New York City in 2010 was confined to dealing only with what happened within 5 minutes in a 300 square-foot room in Afghanistan. She was tried for attempting to shoot U.S. interrogators in this room in 2008. Although the only person injured in the supposed attack was Siddiqui herself - she was shot in the stomach -- the court sentenced her to 86 years in prison. The court prohibited any discussion of her original kidnapping and years of imprisonment.

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was not charged with terrorism, nor was she ever charged with injuring or harming anyone anywhere. She is a victim of terrible life-threatening injuries.

In Pakistan millions of people have called for the release of Aafia Siddiqui. Internationally many people have already signed this petition and since August 14, 2010 it has generated more than 100,000 email messages directly to the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan, U.S. President, Vice-President, Secretary of State, members of U.S. Congress and Pakistani Parliament, UN officials and major media.

We urge all individuals concerned with human rights to again make their voices heard and sign this international petition to U.S. and Pakistani government officials, with copies to U.S. and Pakistani media, urging the immediate repatriation to Pakistan of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.

For more information on Aafia Siddiqui see:

Please sign this petition and send it on to others.



Repatriate Dr. Aafia Siddiqui to her home in Pakistan NOW!

To: President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joseph Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. John Kerry (Chairperson, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee), congressional leaders, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar

cc: Ban Ki-Moon (Secretary-General, United Nations), UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, UN High Commissioner on Refugees, and members of the Pakistani and U.S. media.

Dear President Barack Obama, President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf:

I urge you to repatriate Dr. Aafia Siddiqui to her native Pakistan as a matter of urgency. Given all the facts and circumstances of this case, repatriation of Dr. Siddiqui to Pakistan would not only serve the interests of justice, but is also warranted on humanitarian grounds.

There are numerous credible reports that Dr. Siddiqui was abducted from Pakistan with her three young children in March 2003. Dr. Siddiqui claims that her captors detained her in a series of secret prisons for five years during which time she was abused in a variety of ways and tortured. Her youngest son, Suleman, remains missing to this day.

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is a citizen of Pakistan. She was not charged with committing any crime on U.S. soil, nor is she a U.S. citizen. She should not have been extradited to the U.S.

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was not charged with terrorism nor was she ever charged with injuring or harming anyone anywhere. She is a victim of terrible life-threatening injuries.

The plight of the disappeared and missing in Pakistan is a cause of great national pain. Let us begin with this act of compassion to address this grievous problem.

In light of the circumstances of this case, in which it appears that at a minimum Dr. Siddiqui suffered severe physical and emotional trauma, we call upon you to exercise all lawful authority to allow Dr. Siddiqui to be repatriated to Pakistan on humanitarian grounds.

We urge that no prisoner held in Pakistani custody be transferred to the U.S. until Dr Aafia Siddiqui is returned to Pakistan.


(Your signature here)


For more information on Aafia Siddiqui see:


The Political Imprisonment of


A Litmus Test for Muslims in America

A Lecture by

El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan

(Director of Operations, The Peace Thru Justice Foundation)

Saturday, December 1, 2012 .... 5 PM


4145 US HIGHWAY 1,
Monmouth Junction, NJ 08852-2150 - (732) 329-8126

Stevie Wonder Pulls Out of IDF Fundraiser

SEE original article documenting this action by Stevie Wonder at for wed. nov 28 or CLICK here

Published Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Petition Called on R&B Star To Shun Israel Army Event

Stevie Wonder is set to pull out of a performance at a fundraiser for the Israel Defense Forces, a source told JTA.

Wonder’s representatives will claim that he did not know the nature of the group, the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, and that he believes such a performance would be incongruent with his status as a U.N. “Messenger of Peace,” according to a source who has read email exchanges between Wonder’s representatives and organizers of the event.

Wonder was scheduled to headline the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces annual gala in Los Angeles on Dec. 6. The event raises millions of dollars annually to support the Israeli military.

An official of Friends of the IDF, reached at its Los Angeles office, had no comment. Wonder’s agent at Creative Artists Agency did not return a request for comment.

The spokesman for the U.N. Secretary General also had no comment on the matter. The United Nations does not usually impose restrictions on its goodwill representatives. Wonder most recently performed at a U.N. concert commemorating its 67th anniversary.

Wonder had come under intense social media pressure to pull out of the event. An online petition calling on him to cancel his performance had garnered more than 3,600 signatures.

The petition was launched more than a day ago on the website.

“You were arrested in 1985 protesting South African Apartheid, now we ask you: please remember that apartheid is apartheid, whether it comes from White Afrikaaner settlers of South Africa or from Jewish Israelis in Israel,” the petition reads. “Desmond Tutu has recognized that Israel’s Apartheid is worse than South Africa’s – will you stand with us against apartheid and cancel your performance at the IDF fundraiser.”

A second petition, launched by the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, calls on Wonder to “(p)lease continue your legacy of speaking out for the oppressed. Please be a ‘full-time lover’ of justice by standing on the right side of history and canceling your performance for the Israeli army.”

Wonder performed at a 1998 gala honoring Israel’s 50th anniversary.


See or add more related items under COMMENTS

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

100 Christian Leaders Support Palestine's Membership in the UN

Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 4:25 PM
Subject: [PalestinianChristians] Fwd: Statement from 100 Christian Community Leaders in the Holy Land to European Countries: Support Palestine’s membership in the United Nations.

Palestine, the Holy Land is our homeland. Our roots here stretch for centuries. We, Palestinian Christians are the descendents of the first Christians. We are also an organic and integral component of the Palestinian people. And just like our Palestinian Muslim brothers and sisters, we have been denied our national and human rights for almost a century.

We have endured dispossession and forced exile since 1948, when two thirds of Palestine's Christians were forcibly expelled from their homes in the Holy Land. Our presence in our Holy Land has been under threat since then, choked by a snaking wall that has devoured our land and deprived our congregations of hope and peace in the land that was blessed with the birth of the Prince of Peace. We have persevered through 64 years of exile and 45 years of occupation, holding on to His message of peace. We, Palestinian Christians say enough! Our message is simple: to achieve peace, the world must also say enough to occupation and the degradation of human dignity.

As Christian community leaders in Palestine, we are entitled to seek a just peace that will lead to reconciliation and the realization of our people's natural rights. The current status quo is untenable. On one side, there is a people under occupation and on the other, a belligerent occupying power that works tirelessly to distance us from the peace we seek and pray for. We Christians have a duty to confront oppression. In our Kairos document, we Palestinian Christians declare that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land is a sin against God and humanity because it deprives Palestinians of their basic human rights, bestowed by God.

Ending Israeli occupation is the only way for Palestinians, Christians and Muslims, to enjoy a life of prosperity and progress. It is also the surest way to secure continued Christian presence in this, our Holy Land. It is the way to preserve our history and help tear down the occupation's wall that disconnected Jerusalem and Bethlehem for the first time since the birth of Christianity.

We, Palestinian Christian leaders, part of the indigenous people of the Holy Land and descendents of the first Christians, have witnessed the changes of this land over the centuries. We have suffered the loss and have carried the cross for all these years. The occupation, oppression, exile and Apartheid, have made of every day a good Friday. We hope that your actions and prayers, along with ours, will help us get closer to the day of our own resurrection as a free nation.

We believe the Palestine Liberation Organization's initiative to enhance Palestine’s status in the United Nations to an Observer State is a positive, collective, and moral step that will get us closer to freedom. This is a step in the right direction for the cause of a just peace in the region. We fully endorse this bid, just as we supported Palestine's application for full membership of the United Nations a year ago. That is why we call upon European governments to fully endorse the just Palestinian plight for freedom and independence.

The international community, and particularly Europe, have a historic responsibility towards Palestine’s rights. Europe has long championed the values of peace and human rights. Now, Europe can reflect this principled position by helping Palestine. We call on you to support our effort in bringing about a real peace by aligning their positions and actions with international law and UN resolutions and supporting Palestine’s UN Bid. From the Holy Land, we call on you to take this peaceful, righteous, and collective step towards deliverance so that our halleluiah soon becomes a celebration of a peace we live and not a yearning for a reality we are unjustly denied.


1) Patriarch Emeritus Michael Sabbah, Occupied Jerusalem.
2) Archbishop Atallah Hanna, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, Occupied Jerusalem.
3) Monsignor Rafik Khoury, Latin Patriarchate Seminary.
4) Dr. Zoughbi Zoughbi – Director of Wi’am Center, Bethlehem.
5) Vera Baboun, Bethlehem Municipality, Bethlehem.
6) Hind Khoury, Vice President of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center and Ambassador, Occupied Jerusalem.
7) Fr. Faysal Hijazeen – General Director the Christian Schools in Palestine
8) Sami El-Yousef – Regional Director for Palestine and Israel, Pontifical Mission for Palestine, Occupied Jerusalem.
9) Reverend Alex Awad, Pastor of the East Jerusalem Baptist Church and Dean of Students at Bethlehem Bible College, Occupied Jerusalem / Bethlehem.
10) Fr. Aziz Halaweh – Parish Priest of Taybeh
11) Claudette Habash, General Secretary of CARITAS – Jerusalem, Occupied Jerusalem.
12) Mira Rizek – National Secretary General of YWCA Palestine, Occupied Jerusalem.
13) Hanna Siniora, Head of the European – Palestinian Chamber of Commerce, Occupied Jerusalem.
14) Nabil Mushahwar, Head of the Palestine Bar Association, Occupied Jerusalem.
15) Afif Safieh – Ambassador, Occupied Jerusalem.
16) Fr. Jamal Khader – Dean of Arts, Bethlehem University.
17) Fouad Kokali – Member of Parliament, Beit Sahour.
18) Rifa’at Kassis, Kairos Palestine General Coordinator, Beit Sahour.
19) Yacoub El-Yousef – President of the Arab Orthodox Club, Occupied Jerusalem.
20) Dr. Bernard Sabella, University Professor and Member of Parliament, Occupied Jerusalem.
21) Fr. Ibrahim Shomali – Parish Priest of Beit Jala.
22) Dr. Elias Iseed – Head of the Arab Orthodox Society, Beit Sahour.
23) Khader Abuabara – Head of the Arab Orthodox Club, Beit Jala.
24) Dr. Na’el Salman – Mayor of Beit Jala
25) Fr. Johnny Abukhalil, Parish Priest of Nablus.
26) Hanna Karkar, St. Jacob's Orthodox Cathedral Board of Trustees, Occupied Jerusalem.
27) Antonian Society, Bethlehem.
28) Hani Hayek, Mayor of Beit Sahour.
29) Ibrahim Matar, President of National Christian Association, Occupied Jerusalem.
30) Ramzi Zananiri, Executive Director of Near East Council of Churches, Occupied Jerusalem.
31) Samia Khoury, Civil Society Activist, Occupied Jerusalem
32) Fayez Saqqa – Member of Parliament, Bethlehem.
33) Hanna Amira, Member of the PLO Executive Committee, Occupied Jerusalem.
34) Nader Abu Amsha, Director YMCA, Occupied Jerusalem.
35) Dr. Kholoud Daibes, Member of the Church of the Nativity Rehabilitation Committee, Bethlehem and former minister.
36) Tony Khashram, Businessman, Occupied Jerusalem.
37) Ziad Bandak, Adviser to the President, Bethlehem.
38) Fr. Raed Sahlia, Parish Priest of the Holy Family Church, Ramallah.
39) Lena Saleh, Educator, Occupied Jerusalem.
40) Edmond Shehadeh, General Director of the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation, Beit Jala.
41) Simon Kouba, Engineer and Community Activist, Occupied Jerusalem.
42) Xavier Abu Eid, Adviser to the PLO Negotiations Team and honorary Member of the Papal Scout Troup, Beit Jala.
43) Kamal Boullata, Artist and Art Historian, Occupied Jerusalem.
44) Salim Hodali – Head of Diaspora Section - Bank of Palestine, Beit Jala.
45) Francis Tams, Civil Society Activist, Occupied Jerusalem.
46) Pauline Nunu, Spokesman for the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel, Occupied Jerusalem.
47) Fr. Hanna Salem, Vice Director of the Latin Patriarchate Seminary, Beit Jala.
48) Yusef Daher, Jerusalem Inter Church Center, Occupied Jerusalem.
49) Manuel Hassasian, Ambassador, Occupied Jerusalem.
50) Dr. Samir Hazboun, President of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce, Bethlehem.
51) Elie Shehadeh, Palestinian National Initiative, Bethlehem.
52) Antoine Nesnas, Community Activist, Occupied Jerusalem.
53) George Lama, Center for Cultural Heritage Preservation, Bethlehem.
54) Honey Thalgieh, Captain of the Palestine National Women’ Football Team, Bethlehem.
55) Renee Bahu, Retired Teacher, Ramallah.
56) Kamal Daibes, Member of Ramallah Municipal Council, Ramallah.
57) Albert Hani, Head of Papal Scouts Group, Beit Jala.
58) Saint Vincent de Paul Society, Beit Jala.
59) Fr. Iyad Twal, Parish priest of Beit Sahour, Beit Sahour.
60) Dr. Muna Mushahwar, Arab Orthodox Club, Occupied Jerusalem.
61) Fr. Johnny Bahbah, Latin Patriarchate Seminary, Beit Jala.
62) Fr. Emcula Sema’an, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, Beit Jala.
63) Diana Safieh, Dame of the Holy Sepulcher, Occupied Jerusalem.
64) Dr. Suleiman Abu Dayyeh, Head of Palestine Desk – Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty, Occupied Jerusalem.
65) Sister Hala George, Occupied Jerusalem.
66) Hania Persekian, Arab Orthodox Club, Occupied Jerusalem.
67) Issa Kassasieh, Arab Studies Society – Orient House and member of the Arab Orthodox Club, Occupied Jerusalem.
68) George Bahu, University Lecturer, Ramallah.
69) Diana Mushahwar, The Four Homes of Mercy, Occupied Jerusalem.
70) Fr. Yousef Hodali, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, Beit Jala.
71) Tony Salman, National Christian Coalition, Occupied Jerusalem.
72) Antony Habash, Regional Director – Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, Bethlehem.
73) Nidal Abuzuluf, Manager of Joint Advocacy Initiative – YMCA, Beit Sahour.
74) Mireille Ghnem, President of YWCA Jerusalem, Occupied Jerusalem.
75) Mazin Qumsieh, Professor Bethlehem University, Beit Sahour.
76) Vivien Sansour, writer and photographer, Beit Jala.
77) Yasmine Khoury, Kairos Palestine, Bethlehem.
78) Michel Awad, Executive Director SIRAJ Center, Beit Sahour
79) Anton Hanna Siniora, The National Christian Association, Occupied Jerusalem.
80) Maher Sahlieh, Palestine Scouts Association, Occupied Jerusalem.
81) Usama Zoughbi, Civil Society Activist, Bethlehem.
82) Ramzi Sansour, Assistant Professor and Consultant, Bethlehem.
83) Ghassan Daoud, Head of the Association of Orthodox Housing Project, Beit Sahour.
84) Fr. Boulos Alam, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, Beit Jala.
85) Near East Council of Churches – Jerusalem, Occupied Jerusalem.
86) Issa Kassis, CEO Palestine Mortgage & Housing Corporation, Ramallah.
87) Arab Orthodox Club – Bethlehem, Bethlehem.
88) Fr. George Shahwan, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, Beit Jala.
89) Dr. Varsen Aghabakian, Development Consultant – Occupied Jerusalem.
90) Haifa Baramki, Vice President – YWCA Palestine, Ramallah.
91) Raed Abed Rabboh, Public Relations Director at Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ) and Member Mar Mansour Christian Association, Beit Jala.
92) Issam Moghannam, Head of the Holy Family Scout Troup, Ramallah.
93) Wassef Daher, Head of Board YMCA – Palestine, Occupied Jerusalem.
94) Dr. Aghlab Khoury, President of the Arab Orthodox Club, Beit Sahour.
95) George Rishmawi, Head of SIRAJ Center and Alternative Tourism Group, Beit Sahour.
96) Mouhib Awad, Member of Parliament, Ramallah.
97) Fr. Louis Hazboun, Parish Priest of Bir Zeit, Bir Zeit.
98) Andre Batarseh, Secretary General of YMCA, Occupied Jerusalem.
99) Nizar Habash, Journalist and former head of Holy Family Scout Troup, Ramallah.
100) Nora Karmi, Kairos Palestine, Occupied Jerusalem.

This letter has been endorsed by a large number of Priests, Reverends and other community leaders in Europe.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Israelis/Palestinians/Swiss (West Bank) A Non-Violent Communication Interfaith Encounter Group

[iea-reports] Non-Violent Communication Interfaith Encounter group - 4th encounter, 9.9.12

(עברית וערבית אחר האנגלית – اللغة العربية والعبرية تتبع اللغة الانجليزية- Hebrew & Arabic follow English )

Non-Violent Communication Interfaith Encounter group - 4th encounter

Participating: 12, 2 Israelis, 2 guests from Switzerland, 8 Palestinians

Date: September 9th 2012

Venue: West Bank

In this encounter we were privileged to host two friends from Switzerland who are interested to learn about the reality of the West Bank and about the joint Yoga classes of our group. They started their day visiting the Jordan Valley and learning about the issue of water and other challenges, from various perspectives.

In the afternoon we all met and together went to a basketball training of teenagers, led by the Palestinian members of our group. Then we set on the veranda for a conversation. Finally we held a Yoga class, combined with deepening and widening the learning about Yoga philosophy.

The encounter was shorter than usual and excellent and exciting. Even a few hours are significant for the deepening of our connections and maintaining communication on a regular basis. We are now excited towards the next encounter!

Reported: Goni

סיכום מפגש רביעי קבוצת תקשורת מקרבת

משתתפים: 12, 2 ישראלים, 2 אורחים משוויץ, 8 פלסטינים.

תאריך: 9/9/2012

הגדה המערבית.

במפגשנו האחרון זכינו לארח שני חברים משוויץ שהתעניינו במתרחש בגדה ובפרויקט המשותף של חברי קבוצתנו- שיעורי היוגה.

החברים התחילו את היום בסיור בבקעת הירדן שנוגע לעניין המים בבקעה. כמו כן הם למדו רבות על בעיות שונות בבקעה מאספקטים שונים והודרכו ע"י חבר שעובד באחד הארגונים הפועלים באזור.

בשעות אחר הצהריים נפגשנו כולנו ויחד הלכנו לאימון כדורסל של נערים- אותו מעבירים חברי הקבוצה הפלסטינית. לאחר מכן ישבנו יחד במרפסת ושוחחנו ולבסוף קיימנו שיעור יוגה נוסף שהיה משולב בהתעמקות והרחבה בנוגע לפילוסופיה היוגית.

המפגש היה קצר מהרגיל אך טוב מאוד ומרגש. אפילו כמה שעות חשובות כדי להעמיק את הקשר ולשמור על תקשורת על בסיס קבוע.

נרגשים לקראת מפגשנו הבא שצפוי הפעם להיות בסוף השבוע (ולא בעוד חודשיים) וזאת מכיוון שלאחר מכן נאלץ לעשות הפסקה של שלושה שבועות ואולי אפילו חודש.


מרכזת קבוצת תקשורת מקרבת

تلخيص اللقاء الرابع لمجموعة الوسائل المقربة

المشاركون: 12،2 اسرائيليين وضيفين من سويسرا , وثمانية فلسطينيين.
التاريخ: 2012/09/09

الضفة الغربية.
في لقاءنا الاخير استضفنا عضوين من سويسرا الذين اهتموا عما يحدث في الضفة الغربية وبالمشروع المشترك بأعضاء المجموعة – دروس اليوغا. بدا الاصدقاء يومهم هذا بجولة في وادي الاردن ووجود المياه في الوادي , كما تعرفوا على الكثير من المشاكل المختلفة في مواضيع متنوعة وكان هناك صديق يعمل في احدى المؤسسات التى تعمل بالمنطقة قام بارشادنا .

في ساعات ما بعد الظهر التقينا جميعا وذهبنا معا إلى ممارسة كرة السلة للشباب – حيث يقوموا بها الزملاء الفلسطينيين . ثم جلسنا جميعا معا على الشرفة وتحدثنا ثم اقمنا درس يوغا اضافي حيث شمل على توسع اكثر في فلسفة اليوغا.
الاجتماع كان قصير على غير العادة ، ولكن جيدة جدا ومثير. ولو لبضع ساعات هامة لتعميق العلاقة والحفاظ على الاتصالات على أساس منتظم.
كالعادة متحمسون للقاء المقبل الذي سيكون في نهاية الأسبوع المقبل (وليس بعد شهرين) وذلك لاننا سنأخذ قسط من الراحة لمدة ثلاثة أسابيع أو شهر حتى.

مركزت المجموعة

The Interfaith Encounter Association

P.O.Box 3814 , Jerusalem 91037 , Israel

Phone: +972-2-6510520

Fax: +972-2-6510557



Ms. Yael Gidanyan

Mr. Morad Muna

Mr. Moshe Jacobs

Mr. Imad Abu Hassan

Dr. Yehuda Stolov, Executive Director


Mr. Salah Alladin, Assistant Director

Obama the Second (We Pray)

Obama the Second
Israel needs a furious and determined American president - that is its last chance to save itself from the curse of the occupation - and the second Obama is expected to have greater self-confidence and be less concerned with considerations of survival than the first Obama.
Nov.08, 2012 | 3:06 AM THIS STORY IS BY Gideon Levy

They could turn out to be the winning duo, the ones who bring about an agreement with the Palestinians: a furious U.S. President Barack Obama opposite a gambling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (who lost the gamble). If a second-term Obama obeys his heart and logic, his moral code and values, and American and world interests, then we can expect an old-new president in the White House. A president who will translate his anger against Netanyahu into pressure on Israel to finally end the occupation.

It is precisely this pair, who didn't get on together and didn't consult one another, that might lead to momentum. All those who know Obama personally have testified that his heart is in the Palestinian problem. Over the past few years, I have heard testimony to this effect more than once - sometimes from Israelis, sometimes from Palestinians and sometimes from Americans, but always from the horse's mouth.

But the first Obama decided to put his deep feelings and his sense of natural justice aside and became addicted to considerations of political survival. He tried, at the very start of his term of office, to deal with the Israeli occupation. His first telephone calls in office were to Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and he appointed a special envoy immediately.

But that race was merely a sprint. As soon as he realized that tremendous forces were working to perpetuate the Israeli occupation, the strongest man in the world decided to throw up his hands and give up.

Obama looked like someone who had despaired and lost interest. He betrayed his position as leader of America and the world. Netanyahu humiliated and insulted him, blatantly ignored his pleas and went his own way, and Obama swallowed all the insults in a manner that obscured which was president of a world power and which the prime minister of a protectorate.

But the second Obama is expected to have greater self-confidence and be less concerned with considerations of survival. This is where the great opportunity lies: A new and very promising reality could arise if he is faced with a right-wing prime minister who has already shown that he couldn't care less about his requests, who intervened against him in the American elections and continually insults him.

It is difficult to believe that Obama will capitulate in his second term as well. It is difficult to believe he will forgive the behavior of an Israel that talks about two states for two peoples but refuses even to freeze construction in the settlements. This mask must be pulled from Israel's face, and no one can do it better than a furious and moral president in his second term of office.

Israel needs a furious and determined American president. That is its last chance to save itself from the curse of the occupation. It will never do so of its own initiative - there is simply no chance. Absent American anger, it has no reason to do so when life in Israel is so good and the Palestinians are so weak.

If someone other than Netanyahu is elected here - someone who will begin negotiations, blah blah blah, who will talk with the Palestinians and of course turn them down, as always happened over the past few decades - then nothing will change. Obama is likely to once again fall into the trap laid by Israel in its new, and supposedly moderate, image.

But Netanyahu as prime minister and Avigdor Lieberman as his number two are likely to inflame Obama. And a president like Obama, with a well-developed sense of justice and a sophisticated sense of history, is not likely to miss the last chance to do something once again.

Yes, Obama can. Israel has never been so dependent on his country. The question is whether he wants to, and will also be sufficiently determined and courageous.

It will have to happen quickly. It is not even necessary to wait for the inauguration. Obama must change the rules of the game according to which Israel can rampage as it pleases and thumb its nose at the entire world. Europe can't do it, nor can the United Nations, and certainly not the Palestinians. Only Obama can.

Therefore, when the president took the winner's podium in Chicago early yesterday, hope was kindled once again. After the disappointments of the past four years, which were so bitter following the great expectations, this hope is not the same as that which accompanied his first victory. But it is nevertheless hope. And there is no other.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Chomsky Speaks to the Caging of Gazans

See end for info on this book...the "see inside" left for a macabre 'tongue in cheek'

Impressions of Gaza

Noam Chomsky, November 4, 2012

Even a single night in jail is enough to give a taste of what it means to be under the total control of some external force. And it hardly takes more than a day in Gaza to begin to appreciate what it must be like to try to survive in the world’s largest open-air prison, where a million and a half people, in the most densely populated area of the world, are constantly subject to random and often savage terror and arbitrary punishment, with no purpose other than to humiliate and degrade, and with the further goal of ensuring that Palestinian hopes for a decent future will be crushed and that the overwhelming global support for a diplomatic settlement that will grant these rights will be nullified.

The intensity of this commitment on the part of the Israeli political leadership has been dramatically illustrated just in the past few days, as they warn that they will “go crazy” if Palestinian rights are given limited recognition at the UN. That is not a new departure. The threat to “go crazy” (“nishtagea”) is deeply rooted, back to the Labor governments of the 1950s, along with the related “Samson Complex”: we will bring down the Temple walls if crossed. It was an idle threat then; not today.

The purposeful humiliation is also not new, though it constantly takes new forms. Thirty years ago political leaders, including some of the most noted hawks, submitted to Prime Minister Begin a shocking and detailed account of how settlers regularly abuse Palestinians in the most depraved manner and with total impunity. The prominent military-political analyst Yoram Peri wrote with disgust that the army’s task is not to defend the state, but “to demolish the rights of innocent people just because they are Araboushim (“niggers,” “kikes”) living in territories that God promised to us.”

Gazans have been selected for particularly cruel punishment. It is almost miraculous that people can sustain such an existence. How they do so was described thirty years ago in an eloquent memoir by Raja Shehadeh (The Third Way), based on his work as a lawyer engaged in the hopeless task of trying to protect elementary rights within a legal system designed to ensure failure, and his personal experience as a Samid, “a steadfast one,” who watches his home turned into a prison by brutal occupiers and can do nothing but somehow “endure.”

Since Shehadeh wrote, the situation has become much worse. The Oslo agreements, celebrated with much pomp in 1993, determined that Gaza and the West Bank are a single territorial entity. By then the US and Israel had already initiated their program of separating them fully from one another, so as to block a diplomatic settlement and punish the Araboushim in both territories.

Punishment of Gazans became still more severe in January 2006, when they committed a major crime: they voted the “wrong way” in the first free election in the Arab world, electing Hamas. Demonstrating their passionate “yearning for democracy,” the US and Israel, backed by the timid European Union, at once imposed a brutal siege, along with intensive military attacks. The US also turned at once to standard operating procedure when some disobedient population elects the wrong government: prepare a military coup to restore order.

Gazans committed a still greater crime a year later by blocking the coup attempt, leading to a sharp escalation of the siege and military attacks. These culminated in winter 2008-9, with Operation Cast Lead, one of the most cowardly and vicious exercises of military force in recent memory, as a defenseless civilian population, trapped with no way to escape, was subjected to relentless attack by one of the world’s most advanced military systems relying on US arms and protected by US diplomacy. An unforgettable eyewitness account of the slaughter — “infanticide” in their words — is given by the two courageous Norwegian doctors who worked at Gaza’s main hospital during the merciless assault, Mads Gilbert and Erik Fosse, in their remarkable book Eyes in Gaza.

President-elect Obama was unable to say a word, apart from reiterating his heartfelt sympathy for children under attack — in the Israeli town Sderot. The carefully planned assault was brought to an end right before his inauguration, so that he could then say that now is the time to look forward, not backward, the standard refuge of criminals.

Of course, there were pretexts — there always are. The usual one, trotted out when needed, is “security”: in this case, home-made rockets from Gaza. As is commonly the case, the pretext lacked any credibility. In 2008 a truce was established between Israel and Hamas. The Israeli government formally recognizes that Hamas observed it fully. Not a single Hamas rocket was fired until Israel broke the truce under cover of the US election on November 4 2008, invading Gaza on ludicrous grounds and killing half a dozen Hamas members. The Israeli government was advised by its highest intelligence officials that the truce could be renewed by easing the criminal blockade and ending military attacks. But the government of Ehud Olmert, reputedly a dove, chose to reject these options, preferring to resort to its huge comparative advantage in violence: Operation Cast Lead. The basic facts are reviewed once again by foreign policy analyst Jerome Slater in the current issue of the Harvard-MIT journal International Security.

The pattern of bombing under Cast Lead was carefully analyzed by the highly informed and internationally respected Gazan human rights advocate Raji Sourani. He points out that the bombing was concentrated in the north, targeting defenseless civilians in the most densely populated areas, with no possible military pretext. The goal, he suggests, may have been to drive the intimidated population to the south, near the Egyptian border. But the Samidin stayed put, despite the avalanche of US-Israeli terror.

A further goal might have been to drive them beyond. Back to the earliest days of the Zionist colonization it was argued across much of the spectrum that Arabs have no real reason to be in Palestine; they can be just as happy somewhere else, and should leave — politely “transferred,” the doves suggested. This is surely no small concern in Egypt, and perhaps a reason why Egypt does not open the border freely to civilians or even to desperately needed materials

Sourani and other knowledgeable sources observe that the discipline of the Samidin conceals a powder keg, which might explode any time, unexpectedly, as the first Intifada did in Gaza in 1989 after years of miserable repression that elicited no notice or concern,

Merely to mention one of innumerable cases, shortly before the outbreak of the Intifada a Palestinian girl, Intissar al-Atar, was shot and killed in a schoolyard by a resident of a nearby Jewish settlement. He was one of the several thousand Israelis settlers brought to Gaza in violation of international law and protected by a huge army presence, taking over much of the land and scarce water of the Strip and living “lavishly in twenty-two settlements in the midst of 1.4 million destitute Palestinians,” as the crime is described by Israeli scholar Avi Raz. The murderer of the schoolgirl, Shimon Yifrah, was arrested, but quickly released on bail when the Court determined that “the offense is not severe enough” to warrant detention. The judge commented that Yifrah only intended to shock the girl by firing his gun at her in a schoolyard, not to kill her, so “this is not a case of a criminal person who has to be punished, deterred, and taught a lesson by imprisoning him.” Yifrah was given a 7-month suspended sentence, while settlers in the courtroom broke out in song and dance. And the usual silence reigned. After all, it is routine.

And so it is. As Yifrah was freed, the Israeli press reported that an army patrol fired into the yard of a school for boys aged 6 to 12 in a West Bank refugee camp, wounding five children, allegedly intending only “to shock them.” There were no charges, and the event again attracted no attention. It was just another episode in the program of “illiteracy as punishment,” the Israeli press reported, including the closing of schools, use of gas bombs, beating of students with rifle butts, barring of medical aid for victims; and beyond the schools a reign of more severe brutality, becoming even more savage during the Intifada, under the orders of Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, another admired dove.

My initial impression, after a visit of several days, was amazement, not only at the ability to go on with life, but also at the vibrancy and vitality among young people, particularly at the university, where I spent much of my time at an international conference. But there too one can detect signs that the pressure may become too hard to bear. Reports indicate that among young men there is simmering frustration, recognition that under the US-Israeli occupation the future holds nothing for them. There is only so much that caged animals can endure, and there may be an eruption, perhaps taking ugly forms — offering an opportunity for Israeli and western apologists to self-righteously condemn the people who are culturally backward, as Mitt Romney insightfully explained.

Gaza has the look of a typical third world society, with pockets of wealth surrounded by hideous poverty. It is not, however, “undeveloped.” Rather it is “de-developed,” and very systematically so, to borrow the terms of Sara Roy, the leading academic specialist on Gaza. The Gaza Strip could have become a prosperous Mediterranean region, with rich agriculture and a flourishing fishing industry, marvelous beaches and, as discovered a decade ago, good prospects for extensive natural gas supplies within its territorial waters.

By coincidence or not, that is when Israel intensified its naval blockade, driving fishing boats toward shore, by now to 3 miles or less.

The favorable prospects were aborted in 1948, when the Strip had to absorb a flood of Palestinian refugees who fled in terror or were forcefully expelled from what became Israel, in some cases expelled months after the formal cease-fire.

In fact, they were being expelled even four years later, as reported in Ha’aretz (25.12.2008), in a thoughtful study by Beni Tziper on the history of Israeli Ashkelon back to the Canaanites. In 1953, he reports, there was a “cool calculation that it was necessary to cleanse the region of Arabs.” The original name, Majdal, had already been “Judaized” to today’s Ashkelon, regular practice.

That was in 1953, when there was no hint of military necessity. Tziper himself was born in 1953, and while walking in the remnants of the old Arab sector, he reflects that “it is really difficult for me, really difficult, to realize that while my parents were celebrating my birth, other people were being loaded on trucks and expelled from their homes.”

Israel’s 1967 conquests and their aftermath administered further blows. Then came the terrible crimes already mentioned, continuing to the present day.

The signs are easy to see, even on a brief visit. Sitting in a hotel near the shore, one can hear the machine gun fire of Israeli gunboats driving fishermen out of Gaza’s territorial waters and towards shore, so they are compelled to fish in waters that are heavily polluted because of US-Israeli refusal to allow reconstruction of the sewage and power systems that they destroyed.

The Oslo Accords laid plans for two desalination plants, a necessity in this arid region. One, an advanced facility, was built: in Israel. The second one is in Khan Yunis, in the south of Gaza. The engineer in charge of trying to obtain potable water for the population explained that this plant was designed so that it cannot use sea water, but must rely on underground water, a cheaper process, which further degrades the meager aquifer, guaranteeing severe problems in the future. Even with that, water is severely limited. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which cares for refugees (but not other Gazans), recently released a report warning that damage to the aquifer may soon become “irreversible,” and that without remedial action quickly, by 2020 Gaza may not be a “liveable place.”

Israel permits concrete to enter for UNRWA projects, but not for Gazans engaged in the huge reconstruction needs. The limited heavy equipment mostly lies idle, since Israel does not permit materials for repair. All of this is part of the general program described by Israeli official Dov Weisglass, an adviser to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, after Palestinians failed to follow orders in the 2006 elections: “The idea,” he said, “is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” That would not look good.

And the plan is being scrupulously followed. Sara Roy has provided extensive evidence in her scholarly studies. Recently, after several years of effort, the Israeli human rights organization Gisha succeeded to obtain a court order for the government to release its records detailing plans for the diet, and how they are executed. Israel-based journalist Jonathan Cook summarizes them: “Health officials provided calculations of the minimum number of calories needed by Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants to avoid malnutrition. Those figures were then translated into truckloads of food Israel was supposed to allow in each day ... an average of only 67 trucks — much less than half of the minimum requirement — entered Gaza daily. This compared to more than 400 trucks before the blockade began.” And even this estimate is overly generous, UN relief officials report.

The result of imposing the diet, Mideast scholar Juan Cole observes, is that “[a]bout ten percent of Palestinian children in Gaza under 5 have had their growth stunted by malnutrition ... in addition, anemia is widespread, affecting over two-thirds of infants, 58.6 percent of schoolchildren, and over a third of pregnant mothers.” The US and Israel want to ensure that nothing more than bare survival is possible.

“What has to be kept in mind,” observes Raji Sourani, “is that the occupation and the absolute closure is an ongoing attack on the human dignity of the people in Gaza in particular and all Palestinians generally. It is systematic degradation, humiliation, isolation and fragmentation of the Palestinian people.” The conclusion is confirmed by many other sources. In one of the world’s leading medical journals, The Lancet, a visiting Stanford physician, appalled by what he witnessed, describes Gaza as “something of a laboratory for observing an absence of dignity,” a condition that has “devastating” effects on physical, mental, and social wellbeing. “The constant surveillance from the sky, collective punishment through blockade and isolation, the intrusion into homes and communications, and restrictions on those trying to travel, or marry, or work make it difficult to live a dignified life in Gaza.” The Araboushim must be taught not to raise their heads.

There were hopes that the new Morsi government in Egypt, less in thrall to Israel than the western-backed Mubarak dictatorship, might open the Rafah crossing, the sole access to the outside for trapped Gazans that is not subject to direct Israeli control. There has been slight opening, but not much. Journalist Laila el-Haddad writes that the re-opening under Morsi, “is simply a return to status quo of years past: only Palestinians carrying an Israeli-approved Gaza ID card can use Rafah Crossing,” excluding a great many Palestinians, including el-Haddad’s family, where only one spouse has a card.

Furthermore, she continues, “the crossing does not lead to the West Bank, nor does it allow for the passage of goods, which are restricted to the Israeli-controlled crossings and subject to prohibitions on construction materials and export.” The restricted Rafah crossing does not change the fact that “Gaza remains under tight maritime and aerial siege, and continues to be closed off to the Palestinians’ cultural, economic, and academic capitals in the rest of the [occupied territories], in violation of US-Israeli obligations under the Oslo Accords.”

The effects are painfully evident. In the Khan Yunis hospital, the director, who is also chief of surgery, describes with anger and passion how even medicines are lacking for relief of suffering patients, as well as simple surgical equipment, leaving doctors helpless and patients in agony. Personal stories add vivid texture to the general disgust one feels at the obscenity of the harsh occupation. One example is the testimony of a young woman who despaired that her father, who would have been proud that she was the first woman in the refugee camp to gain an advanced degree, had “passed away after 6 months of fighting cancer aged 60 years. Israeli occupation denied him a permit to go to Israeli hospitals for treatment. I had to suspend my study, work and life and go to set next to his bed. We all sat including my brother the physician and my sister the pharmacist, all powerless and hopeless watching his suffering. He died during the inhumane blockade of Gaza in summer 2006 with very little access to health service. I think feeling powerless and hopeless is the most killing feeling that human can ever have. It kills the spirit and breaks the heart. You can fight occupation but you cannot fight your feeling of being powerless. You can't even dissolve that feeling.”

Disgust at the obscenity, compounded with guilt: it is within our power to bring the suffering to an end and allow the Samidin to enjoy the lives of peace and dignity that they deserve.

Noam Chomsky visited the Gaza Strip on October 25-30, 2012.


To see inside the book, Gaza Life in a Cage, By Herve Kempf, Go to the info connected to Jerome Equer 9780875864402 Books

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why I Wake Early

Well, I almost always wake early yet haven't often been STAYING up THAT early but today I did...and after I received the news of the US election what became MOST interesting to me was what some friends of mine had to say about completely different finding a poem from a friend, talking by email about the writers' life and challenges...chatting with another about a horrific US base another friend visited that is shaking up a lot of decent folk in that area clear around the world...(yet another area our US military has NO right to be...)...

Contemplating which of my poems to refine, memorize for a coffee shop reading tonight.

Anyway, sure is easier to look at and contemplate my little part in the beautiful community of us all with the morning light coming in...

How do you like YOUR mornings? How was YOUR morning today?

Why I Wake Early
By Mary Oliver

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety –

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light –
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

~ Mary Oliver ~

(Why I Wake Early, 2004)

credit to the photography goes to this generous artist:

The second one on the top had this to say: Our summit morning was flawless and warm, as you can see. Andy negotiates the many rocky towers, while a German pair (our only companions on the route) weave among the same, behind us. A corner of the Rock Table is seen just below, in the gap between Andy and the others in this shot.

Friday, November 2, 2012

"the field is tilled and left to grace" ( Wendell Barry)

Whatever is foreseen in joy
Must be lived out from day to day.
Vision held open in the dark
By our ten thousand days of work.
Harvest will fill the barn; for that
The hand must ache, the face must sweat.

And yet no leaf or grain is filled
By work of ours; the field is tilled
And left to grace. That we may reap,
Great work is done while we're asleep.

When we work well, a Sabbath mood
Rests on our day, and finds it good.

( "X" by Wendell Berry, from A Timbered Choir. © Counterpoint, 1998 )

I've been in awe of Wendell Berry's life and work for years. His resolute values on preservation of the land was well before the recent popularity of the same. He is appreciated by poets, farmers, believers in the sanctity of marriage and peacemakers alike. There is too much about and from if interested, look him up -- this should be easy to do. Oh, I have a cousin who did a dissertation on Berry. This posting reminds me to see if it's available to read.


On the painter of "The Angelus" above:

I've loved this painting for many years so I want to mention how suited the painter's life was to the themes in Wendell Berry's poem above.

The painter of "The Angelus", Jean-Francois Millet, was born in 1814 in Gruchy, a hamlet a few miles west of Cherbourg in northwest France. holocaust horrors. )

Jean-Francois absorbed his father's appreciation of beauty and art. In his father he found an exemplar to emulate. Jean-Francois also was impressed by his parent's piety and devotion.

Jean-Francois adored his father, Jean-Louis, who loved music and directed the village choir. The painter's father also possessed real artistic talent -- studying plants and trees and modeling them in his rare moments not farming.

Early, the boy Jean-Francois traced prints and then did freehand from pictures in the family Bible. Before long his parents and the village priests recognized that his gift. The priests educated him in mythology, Greek, Latin, Shakespeare, Milton and Burns. Yes, Jean-Francois continued to work the family farm. Later, as a noted, cultured painter, Jean-Francois said of himself, "A peasant I was born and a peasant I will die."


Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010):“And he shall sleep and arise by night and by day and the seed grows and lengthens while he is unaware.”

Thursday, November 1, 2012

David Swanson's Open Letter to Dan Ellsberg (On US Elections)

Respectable Murderers: An Open Letter to Dan Ellsberg
By David Swanson

Original Link here

Dear Dan,

You and I are getting ready to tape a debate on the question of whether to vote for Obama (in "swing states"). It will air on Lila Garrett's "Connect the Dots" show on KPFK next Monday. I'm looking forward to it, if for no other reason, because I think our public discourse lacks much serious debate between people who respect each other's intentions. I have nothing but respect for you and believe you mean nothing but the best in advocating votes for Obama. You honestly believe I was catastrophically wrong to vote for Jill Stein in Virginia, as I've done, and I honestly believe you are horrendously misguided to be expending your valuable energy trying to get others to vote for Obama. And yet we'll be friends through this and regardless of whether one or both of us ever change our minds.

An hour debate will also be a refreshing change from the usual sound byte simplification of the media, and yet not necessarily sufficient. So, let me tell you a couple of stories.

I wandered over to the Obama campaign office here in Charlottesville, Va., on Wednesday when former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was scheduled to visit. She showed up, in fact, and told everyone how terrific Obama is.

I asked Albright whether she still believed that killing a half a million young Iraqi children was "worth it." She said that she very much regretted having made that remark. But did she regret having enacted the sanctions that killed those children? I asked if she opposed the current "crippling sanctions" on Iran, and she said that she did not. (See Video below****)

I'm not so much troubled by Albright's sanctioning of mass murder, as by the agreement with her on the part of the many people gathered to applaud her comments. Not a single person present expressed the slightest concern over Albright's having taken part in the murder of so many young lives and many more older ones. Not a single person expressed an interest in learning about a history they were perhaps ignorant of. Not a single person offered an argument for what the positive "it" was that could have made such slaughter "worth it." Not a single person offered a claim that George Bush Sr. or Bob Dole would have killed even more children.

I don't mean to give the impression that Albright's audience was comatose. On the contrary, numerous individuals began grabbing me, shouting at me, pushing me, grabbing my camera, twisting my arm, and spitting out the most vicious hatred. In theory they would all, no doubt, agree that in a system of self-governance people should be able to question their elected officials, former elected officials, and at-large mass-murdering former elected officials. But in this case, this official was playing for the Good Team. The proper role, they believed, therefore, was that of cheerleaders, the highest value deferential respect.

Do they believe the wholesale slaughter of human beings, whether by sanctions or bombs, is sometimes justified by some mysterious "national interest"? Do they believe I was a raving lunatic and that Albright would never have hurt a fly? Do they just believe it's most appropriate not to ask, because that would involve disrespect toward someone on the Good Team? No matter which way you slice it, you come back to a room full of well-dressed polite supporters of mass-murder. That's far more worrying to me than the individual sociopath speaking to them.

Now, present in that room were TV cameras and newspaper reporters. The purpose of the event was to generate positive news about the reasons to vote for Obama and the stature of the people supporting Obama's reelection. Clearly, from that point of view, the staffers in the office did the absolute right thing in chasing me out of the building and making sure that not another inconvenient question was posed. As I'm sure you realize, voting for Obama in a swing state as a single secretive individual can hardly be called rational. A single vote makes no difference. To be the rational strategic voter you envision, each person must also strive to recruit others.

On the other hand, you say that you agree with me that independent policy-driven activism is more valuable than elections. You agree that we don't have legitimate elections offering a wide range of choices, that we need a movement to demand changes we cannot vote for, changes to strip out the money, open up the debates and the media, undo the gerrymandering, do away with the electoral college, provide automatic registration, and on and on and on. You probably agree that women did not vote themselves the right to vote, that the labor movement grew when it struggled and sacrificed by striking and has shrunk while funding the Democratic Party asking nothing in return, that major changes for peace and justice and civilization have been driven primarily by independent movements and often movements that have mobilized third and fourth party campaigns before winning over the Big Two. You may agree with Howard Zinn that it's not so much who's sitting in the White House as who's doing the sitting in. You might even agree with Emma Goldman that if elections alone changed anything, they'd be banned. In any event, during certain non-election years, I see you doing as much useful activism for this country and the world as anyone I know.

Presumably you place some value on spreading awareness of what sanctions did to Iraq. Presumably you see what value there could be in halting the sanctions on Iran. But what would you have done in that Obama campaign office in this swing state on Wednesday? You are a remarkable person, but still only one person. Would you have ruined the entire publicity stunt by pressing Albright further on her record of genocide? Or would you have thrown her a softball about what sort of evil lawyer Mitt Romney might be expected to nominate to the Supreme Court? Let's accept that both would have been good questions. But you could not have asked both. There was not time, and asking the first would have negated the purpose of the second -- not to mention getting you thrown out of the event.

Even you cannot follow your advice, and you are Daniel Ellsberg. Imagine how hard following your advice is for other people. Most people, to one degree or another, identify with candidates and parties. They talk about "us" winning when their candidate wins. To various degrees they avoid becoming aware of their team's flaws. To various degrees, they censor their opposition to their party or politician, before, during, and after elections. What is your time calculation? Do you prioritize campaigning for a month, six months, a year? How much time out of each four-year period do you sacrifice from independent activism of the sort that has always changed the world? And how much time out of every two-year term of those legislators who Constitutionally are supposed to be running the country?

I'm convinced that you personally do an excellent job of avoiding lesser-evil team cheerleading in between elections. But, most people do not. Our RootsAction petition on "strategic voting" got a response several times lower than any other action we've ever sent to our list. Some people do hold their noses and vote, but they have no idea how tightly they should be holding their noses, and they do not act appropriately post-election. All the activists running around knocking on doors and making phone calls for candidates will not do so for peace or justice in December. They'd look at you like you were crazy if you suggested it. Their work is done. Their energy is drained. Their role as spectators is established. And the promise is contained in any activism that they, or even you, muster: We will attempt to inconvenience you, but we will never ever vote against you.

In between elections, as we move from having voted for the less evil party toward the inevitable contest four years hence between two parties that are both more evil than the time before, our activism is neutered by a system of unions, PACs, and nonprofit clicktivist and media complexes that seek their funding, power, and sense of importance from one half of the government. It has become routine for grassroots or astroturf activist leaders to head into the veal pen and ask the elected officials of the Good Party or of the "Progressive" wing of the good party what they should ask their members to demand. This is an inversion of representative government. You'll recall groups that favored single-payer healthcare forbidding their members from mentioning it, asking instead for a "public option" because so-called public servants had instructed the public to ask for that. The point is not that legislators should never compromise, but that we should leave it to the legislators, because when we pre-compromise, we end up with even less in the end.

When Obama was in Charlottesville, hundreds of people waited in line for hours for the chance to cheer anything he said. Some of us went to talk to the people waiting in line. We wanted to get a sense of how they felt about all the policies that had produced such outrage under Bush and been expanded under Obama. Under Obama, as you may know, wealth is concentrating faster, the environment is deteriorating faster, the military has spread further and cost more, the warrantless spying has spread and been firmly established as without criminal penalty, rendition and torture have become policy choices rather than crimes, imprisonment without charge or trial has been "legalized" (although Obama is still fighting for that power in court), an assassination program has been created and openly advertised, wars have been launched without the courtesy of lying to Congress, the CIA has been given major war powers, "special" forces are in 70 nations on any given day and raiding a dozen homes to kill on any given night, drones have raised to new heights the percentage of war victims who are civilians and the percentage of the people in certain nations who hate our government, secrecy has mushroomed, and retribution against whistleblowers has exploded. You are aware of all of this. We couldn't find a single person in that crowd who had ever heard of any of it. Major news stories that would have put people into the streets in outrage if the president were a Republican did not exist to this crowd.

Sure, you know the facts. But are you devoting every ounce of energy to spreading the word and building resistance? Of course not. You're investing your time in campaigning for Obama votes (in swing states). You may understand that there's been no step back from Bush's policies, that Obama has advanced them further. Yes, Romney could advance them even further even faster than Obama would in the next four years -- even in the face of the public opposition that would likely materialize for a President Romney. But we need a reversal of course, not a slightly slower death, not even a significantly slower death. The environment is collapsing. Weaponry and hostility are spreading. We're dealing with a need for survival, not a desire for utopia. What we need for survival is a credible independent movement.

When a labor union today says "Reform NAFTA and push for the Employee Free Choice Act, or else," the "or else" is empty and everyone knows it. When Bill McKibben says "The tar sands pipeline is your test," nobody believes that when Obama fails the test McKibben will oppose his reelection. Compare this battered-spouse relationship with that of Latinos who posed a credible threat to desert Obama and thereby won some modest immigration rights.

You know that we had a significant (pitiably weak but significant) peace movement in 2005 and 2006. Why? Because opponents of war and opponents of Republican presidents' wars were teamed up together. That fell apart as Democrats took power in Congress in 2007 and as 2008 turned out to be the year of one of those endlessly recurring "most important elections of our lifetime." The movement was temporarily shut down, never to be restored. We went from Mitch McConnell secretly warning Bush to get out of Iraq to Obama getting credit for withdrawing from Afghanistan even as the troops there were double the number deployed when Obama entered the White House.

How in the world can anyone have spent the last many years in the peace movement and not noticed this partisan-based electoral-based collapse? I'm sure you've seen and were likely surveyed during the study done by the University of Michigan's Michael Heaney and Indiana University's Fabio Rojas. They documented this collapse and its partisan basis.

Would I object to people voting for a less-evil but still evil candidate if they could continue organizing for justice? Of course not. I do not fail to understand the power of your argument. I'm sure you'll do me the courtesy of not simply repeating it. A more evil candidate is more evil than a less evil candidate. A greater warmonger and bigger destroyer of the environment is worse than a lesser warmonger and lesser destroyer of the environment. I think the case for Obama's superiority to Romney is vastly overblown. I think, in fact, that Obama has been able to get away with much that we would never have allowed McCain to achieve. We stood up against Bush's attack on Social Security. But China is to Nixon as humanitarian goods are to Obama. Let's grant, however, that Obama is better than Romney. Let's grant it because it is not the central argument and may very well be right. That is, if you compare their platforms as presented, guesstimate how much of each is outright lies, and factor in the likely public resistance to each, Obama may come out ahead. My argument is not that he doesn't. My argument is not that he doesn't do so meaningfully. My argument is not that this isn't a question of life and death. And my position involves complete awareness that I will not be the first to die, someone else will.

Here, in contrast, is my actual argument: It is vastly more important that we have an independent movement based on policy changes rather than personality changes. In theory we could have that with lesser-evil-swing-state voting. In reality, we cannot. We cannot build a national movement in the 38 states from which all candidates and journalists have fled, and on the condition that we avoid building it large enough to have any impact whatsoever (which would ruin the whole strategy by transforming a non-swing state into a swing state). We cannot keep a movement from shutting down for each election cycle as long as most people see their jobs as followers of politicians rather than as the true sovereigns of this land.

I don't care about my purity. If I wanted to be pure I would avoid thinking about these matters at all. I wouldn't subject myself to a room full of well-dressed polite backers of mass-murder at all if I wanted to be pure. And I would hold my nose and work with them shoulder-to-shoulder if I thought that would lead to the greater good. I would have voted for Captain Peace Prize if I believed it would save the most lives. I do not. I believe that building an activist movement that depends on rejecting support for a party of mass murderers will save the most lives, and will do so in the relative near term -- or we will all perish.

As you know, I've spent months trying to avoid this discussion because I believe that our so-called elections drain energy away from activism. They also serve to divide us. We all want peace and justice. But we drop everything to debate or, more often, quarrel with each other over electoral matters -- something the powers in Washington must have great laughs over. But the election is this week, and this debate must be had. I enter it with a great deal of respect for that small group of people on the other side of it who understand the need for a real mass movement and believe a mass movement is compatible with lesser-evilism. I'm simply not persuaded.


David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at and and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

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