Monday, April 21, 2008

Haaretz: Our debt to Jimmy Carter

10:28 15/04/2008
Our debt to Jimmy Carter
By Haaretz Editorial

The government of Israel is boycotting Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, during his visit here this week. Ehud Olmert, who has not managed to achieve any peace agreement during his public life, and who even tried to undermine negotiations in the past, "could not find the time" to meet the American president who is a signatory to the peace agreement with Egypt. President Shimon Peres agreed to meet Carter, but made sure that he let it be known that he reprimanded his guest for wishing to meet with Khaled Meshal, as if the achievements of the Carter Center fall short of those of the Peres Center for Peace. Carter, who himself said he set out to achieve peace between Israel and Egypt from the day he assumed office, worked incessantly toward that goal and two years after becoming president succeeded - was declared persona non grata by Israel.

The boycott will not be remembered as a glorious moment in this government's history. Jimmy Carter has dedicated his life to humanitarian missions, to peace, to promoting democratic elections, and to better understanding between enemies throughout the world. Recently, he was involved in organizing the democratic elections in Nepal, following which a government will be set up that will include Maoist guerrillas who have laid down their arms. But Israelis have not liked him since he wrote the book "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid."

Israel is not ready for such comparisons, even though the situation begs it. It is doubtful whether it is possible to complain when an outside observer, especially a former U.S. president who is well versed in international affairs, sees in the system of separate roads for Jews and Arabs, the lack of freedom of movement, Israel's control over Palestinian lands and their confiscation, and especially the continued settlement activity, which contravenes all promises Israel made and signed, a matter that cannot be accepted. The interim political situation in the territories has crystallized into a kind of apartheid that has been ongoing for 40 years. In Europe there is talk of the establishment of a binational state in order to overcome this anomaly. In the peace agreement with Egypt, 30 years ago, Israel agreed to "full autonomy" for the occupied territories, not to settle there.

These promises have been forgotten by Israel, but Carter remembers. Whether Carter's approach to conflict resolution is considered by the Israeli government as appropriate or defeatist, no one can take away from the former U.S. president his international standing, nor the fact that he brought Israel and Egypt to a signed peace that has since held. Carter's method, which says that it is necessary to talk with every one, has still not proven to be any less successful than the method that calls for boycotts and air strikes. In terms of results, at the end of the day, Carter beats out any of those who ostracize him. For the peace agreement with Egypt, he deserves the respect reserved for royalty for the rest of his life.

For more coverage of President Carter's mission, see

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Ann Hafften

Monday, April 14, 2008

Let Me Stand Alone: The Journals of Rachel Corrie - National Book Launch

Thanks to Friends of Sabeel North America for circulating this schedule.

Rachel Corrie's personal journals now in book form -

Launches have taken place or are scheduled in these locations: Berkeley, California; Seattle, Olympia, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Frederick, Maryland; Washington, D.C.; New York City, Iowa City, Iowa; and St. Paul, Minnesota.

Here is a letter from Cindy Corrie:


I am thrilled to announce the release of my daughter Rachel's writings in the new book Let Me Stand Alone: The Journals of Rachel Corrie, published by W.W. Norton & Co. and available in bookstores and online! I am also excited to invite you to attend a series of book launch events across the country that Craig and I will be participating in during the month of April. We hope that you and your friends will join us to celebrate Rachel's book at one of these events and that you will use the attached flyer to help us spread the word about each one.

[For information about CSpan's film of the first book event, April 5th in Berkeley, California, go to the website of sponsor KPFA Radio]

Working on the book was an alternately exhilarating and challenging process. We agonized over every editing decision, which pieces would Rachel have included? Which would she have wanted to work on further? However, we knew how much Rachel wanted her writing to have a wider impact and we still believe deeply that the questions she pondered and the realities she witnessed are universally important to confront. It is a true milestone for our family, and for Rachel, that her words in this book reach the world.

More information about Let Me Stand Alone, including how to purchase it, can be found at

If we are not scheduled to be in your area during the April book tour, but you would like to organize a future reading, you can contact us through this website as well.

As Craig wrote in the introduction to the book: Words were sacred to Rachel, and her words have become treasures to us. They are what we have left and are an immense gift to our family. With this book, we offer that gift to you. We look forward to seeing you in Berkeley, Seattle, Olympia, Portland, DC, New York, Iowa City or Minneapolis! Please do help us spread the word.

Thank you! Cindy Corrie

Remaining dates on the schedule are:

Frederick, Maryland Monday, April 14th
Time: 7 PM
Delaplaine Visual Arts & Education Center
40 South Carroll Street
Frederick, Maryland 21701

Washington, DC Tuesday, April 15th
Time: 6:00 PM
Busboys & Poets
2021 14th Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

New York City
Friday, April 18th
Time: 6:30 PM
51 Astor Place (8th Street between 3rd and 4th)
New York, NY
Guest Readers Include: Kathleen Chalfant, Nick Flynn, Marie Howe, Denis O'Hare and Lili Taylor.

Iowa City, Iowa Tues., April 22
Time: 7:30 PM
University of Iowa, Iowa Memorial Union
Black Box Theater, Room #360
125 N. Madison Street
Iowa City, IA

Twin Cities, Minnesota
Thursday, April 24th
Time: 7:00 PM Micawber's Book Store
2238 Carter Avenue
St. Paul, MN

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Alison Weir asks: Should the U.S. End Aid to Israel? Funding Our Decline

Apri1 4, 2008
Should the U.S. End Aid to Israel?
Funding Our Decline

April 1st I participated in a debate in San Francisco that raised the question of US aid to Israel.It was highly appropriate that this debate was held two weeks before tax day, since in Israel's sixty years of existence, it has received more US tax money than any other nation on earth.

During periods of recession, when Americans are thrown out of work, homes are repossessed, school budgets cut and businesses fail, Congress continues to give Israel massive amounts of our tax money; currently, about 7 million dollars per day.

On top of this, Egypt and Jordan receive large sums of money (per capita about 1/20th of what Israel receives) to buy their cooperation with Israel; and Palestinians also receive our tax money (about 1/23rd of that to Israel), to repair infrastructure that Israeli forces have destroyed, to fund humanitarian projects required due to the destruction wrought by Israel's military, and to convince Palestinian officials to take actions beneficial to Israel. These sums should also be included in expenditures on behalf of Israel.

When all are added together, it turns out that for many years over half of all US tax money abroad has been expended to benefit a country the size of New Jersey.

It is certainly time to begin debating this disbursement of our hard-earned money. It is quite possible that we have better uses for it.

To decide whether the US should continue military aid to any nation, it is essential to examine the nature and history of the recipient nation, how it has used our military aid in the past, whether these uses are in accord with our values, and whether they benefit the American taxpayers who are putting up the money.

1. What is the history and nature of Israel?
Describing Israel is always difficult. One can either stay within the mainstream paradigm, or tell the truth. I will opt for the truth.

Drawing on scores of books by diverse authors, the facts are quite clear: Israel was created through one of the most massive, ruthless, and persistent ethnic cleansing operations of modern history. In 1947-49 about three-quarters of a million Muslims and Christians, who had originally made up 95 percent of the population living in the area that Zionists wanted for a Jewish state, were brutally forced off their ancestral land. There were 33 massacres, over 500 villages were completely destroyed, and an effort was made to erase all vestiges of Palestinian history and culture.

The fact is that Israel's core identity is based on ethnic and religious discrimination by a colonial, immigrant group; and maintaining this exclusionist identity has required continued violence against those it has dispossessed, and others who have given them refuge.

2. How has Israel used our military aid in the past?
In all of its wars except one, Israel has attacked first.

In violation of the Arms Export Control Act, which requires that US weapons only be used in "legitimate self defense," Israel used American equipment during its two invasions of Lebanon, killing 17,000 the first time and 1,000 more recently, the vast majority civilians. It used American-made cluster bombs in both invasions, again in defiance of US laws, causing the "most hideous injuries" one American physician said she had ever seen, and which, in one day in 1982 alone, resulted in the amputation of over 1,000 mangled limbs.

It has used US military aid to continue and expand its illegal confiscation of land in the West Bank and Golan Heights, and has used American F-16s and Apache Helicopters against largely unarmed civilian populations.

According to Defence for Children International, Israel has "engaged in gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law." Between 1967 and 2003, Israel destroyed more than 10,000 homes, and such destruction continues today. A coalition of UK human rights groups recently issued a report stating that Israel's blockade of Gaza is collective punishment of 1.5 million people, warning: "Unless the blockade ends now, it will be impossible to pull Gaza back from the brink of this disaster and any hopes for peace in the region will be dashed."

In addition, Israel uses US military aid to fund an Israeli arms industry that competes with US companies. According to a report commissioned by the US Army War College, "Israel uses roughly 40 percent of its military aid, ostensibly earmarked for purchase of US weapons, to buy Israeli-made hardware. It also has won the right to require the Defense Department or US defense contractors to buy Israeli-made equipment or subsystems, paying 50 to 60 cents on every defense dollar the US gives to Israel."

Israel has used US aid to kill and injure nonviolent Palestinian, American and international activists, as well as American servicemen. Israeli soldiers in an American-made Caterpillar bulldozer crushed to death 23-year-old Rachel Corrie; an Israeli sniper shot 21-year-old Tom Hurndall in the head; Israeli soldiers shot 26-year-old Brian Avery in the face. In 1967 Israel used US-financed French aircraft to attack a US Navy ship, killing 34 American servicemen and injuring 174.

Israel has used US aid to imprison without trial thousands of Palestinians and others, and according to reports by the London Times and Amnesty International, Israel consistently tortures prisoners; including, according to Foreign Service Journal, American citizens.

3. Are these uses in accord with our national and personal values?
Not in my view.

4. Do these uses of US aid benefit American taxpayers?
While some Israeli actions have served US interests, the balance sheet is clear: Israel's use of American aid consistently damages the United States, harms our economy, and endangers Americans.

In fact, this extremely negative outcome was so predictable that even before Israel's creation virtually all State Department and Pentagon experts advocated forcefully against supporting the creation of a Zionist state in the Middle East. President Harry Truman's reply: "I am sorry gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism. I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents."

Through the years, as noted above, our aid to Israel has not resulted in a reliable ally.

In 1954 Israel tried to bomb US government offices in Egypt, intending to pin this on Muslims.

In 1963 Senator William Fulbright discovered that Israel was using a series of covert operations to funnel our money to pro-Israel groups in the US, which then used these funds in media campaigns and lobbying to procure even more money from American taxpayers.

In 1967 Israeli forces unleashed a two-hour air and sea attack against the USS Liberty, causing 200 casualties. While Israel partisans claim that this was done in error, this claim is belied by extensive eyewitness evidence and by an independent commission reporting on Capitol Hill in 2003 chaired by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Thomas Moorer.

In 1973 Israel used the largest airlift of US materiel in history to defeat Arab forces attempting to regain their own land, triggering the Arab oil embargo that sent the US into a recession that cost thousands of Americans their jobs.

During its 1980s Lebanon invasion, Israeli troops engaged in a systematic pattern of harassment of US forces brought in as peacekeepers that created, according to Commandant of Marines Gen. R. H Barrow, "life-threatening situations, replete with verbal degradation of the officers, their uniform and country."

Through the years, Israel has regularly spied on the US. According to the Government Accounting Office, Israel "conducts the most aggressive espionage operations against the United States of any ally." Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger said of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard: "It is difficult for me to conceive of greater harm done to national security," And the Pollard case was just the tip of a very large iceberg; the most recent operation coming to light involves two senior officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Israel's powerful American lobbying organization.

Bad as the above may appear, it pales next to the indirect damage to Americans caused by our aid to Israel. American funding of Israel's egregious violations of Palestinian human rights is consistently listed as the number one cause of hostility to Americans.

While American media regularly cover up Israeli actions, those of us who have visited the region first-hand witness a level of US-funded Israeli cruelty that makes us weep for our victims and fear for our country. While most Americans are uninformed on how Israel uses our money, people throughout the world are deeply aware that it is Americans who are funding Israeli crimes.

The 9/11 Commission notes that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's "animus towards the United States stemmedfrom his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel." The Economist reports that " the notion of payback for injustices suffered by the Palestinians is perhaps the most powerfully recurrent theme in bin Laden's speeches."

The Bottom Line

In sum, US aid to Israel has destabilized the Middle East; propped up a national system based on ethnic and religious discrimination; enabled unchecked aggression that has, on occasion, been turned against Americans themselves; funded arms industries that compete with American companies; supported a pattern of brutal dispossession that has created hatred of the US; and resulted in continuing conflict that last year took the lives of 384 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, and that in the past seven and a half years has cost the lives of more than 982 Palestinian children and 119 Israeli children.

By providing massive funding to Israel, no matter what it does, American aid is empowering Israeli supremacists who believe in a never-ending campaign of ethnic cleansing; while disempowering Israelis who recognize that policies of morality, justice, and rationality are the only road to peace.

It is time to end our aid.

## ## ##

Alison Weir is Executive Director of If Americans Knew
For more information on the US-Israel relationship she especially recommends the books by Donald Neff, Paul Findley, Kathleen Christison, Stephen Walt, John Mearsheimer, Grant Smith, Stephen Green, George Ball, and John Mulhall.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Open Letter To Hillary, Obama, McCain And News Editors TV, Radio and Print

Open Letter To Hillary, Obama, McCain And News Editors TV, Radio and Print
By Eileen Fleming

02 April, 2008

Dear All,

Just hours after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice left the region for the second time, Israel announced plans Monday for 1,400 new homes on Palestinian land. Jerusalem's city hall announced it will build 600 new apartments in Pisgat Zeev, a Jewish "neighborhood" in the eastern sector of the city and a place I visited in 2006. Pisgat Zeev is an Orwellian Disney World of swimming pools, playgrounds and lush landscape less than a five minute drive from Anata, refugee camp, where The Wall is butted up to the boy's high school.

The playground for Anata is a slab of cement at the high school about the square footage of a basketball court. One of the resident refugees told me, "The Israeli forces show up when the children gather in the morning or after classes. They throw percussion bombs or gas bombs into the school nearly every day. The world is sleeping; the world is hibernating and allowing this misery to continue."

"Neighborhood" is a euphemism for settlement. Every settlement in the West Bank is illegal under international law.

On March 31, 2008, Israel began taking down some of the 50 West Bank roadblocks it pledged to remove during Rice's visit. Israel still maintains more than 500 checkpoints and roadblocks, claiming "security" - euphemism for total control of the indigenous people's right to move and export their goods; another reason the Palestinian economy is in ruins.

"What this country needs is a President who won't just do what's right when the politics are easy, but will stand up when the politics are hard." - Senator Obama

The policies the United States has pursued since the Six Day War have failed to achieve security for Israel and have been an injustice unto Palestinians.

All we the people hear from our politicians is the same failure to lead in the way of equal human rights and international law. All we the people hear is an increasingly fervent repetition of the status quo and bankrupt policies that have brought us to this point in time where 'civilized' people consider-some even relish-the thought of unleashing the terror of another nuclear bomb.

On January 23, 2008, Senator Obama sent a letter to Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, about a proposed Security Council resolution on the situation in Gaza. Obama focused on condemning Palestinian rocket attacks against Israel, but made no mention of the ongoing Israeli bombardments and raids that have killed hundreds of innocent residents of Gaza, as well as the calculated Israeli policy of denying the necessities of life - food, clean drinking water, medicines, medical care, school supplies, and the energy needed to power sewage treatment plants and hospital operating rooms - to the 1.5 million open air prisoners, of whom more than half are children.

Obama wrote that "Israel is forced to do this." Obama denounced Hamas as a terrorist organization, but ignored its repeated offers of a long-term truce with Israel - offers the Israeli government has repeatedly immediately rejected, although polls show that more than 60 percent of Israel's own population favors negotiations with Hamas.

Not Obama, not McCain and not Clinton have offered even a word of criticism of Israel, or of sympathy for the people of Gaza.

This is not "change we can believe in" and what we the people need is the chance to begin the world again. This time we do have it in our power to begin the world again, but we need the corporate media to ask the questions we the people of America must have answers to.


Where are the candidates on Gaza, Jerusalem, the rights of refugees, The Wall, the continuing settlements, the over 500 checkpoints that deny the indigenous people of that land the right to access their land, jobs and holy sites in light of this year; the 60th anniversary of Israel and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights- upon which Israel's statehood was contingent upon upholding.

Having lived in occupied Palestine for a total of ten weeks spread over five trips, I attest that Military Occupation dehumanizes the occupied and will reap many without hope. Only a person without hope that things will improve could even consider strapping on a bomb and killing themselves.

We the people in the land of the free and home of the brave, actually have some power before we elect another president who will maintain the status quo. Yeah, we can. We can do that, we can elect a politician beholden to the Military Industrial Complex, corporate interests, lobbyists, the religious right. Or we can say, no, not this time.

Might this time we the people see with eyes of the dissidents, rebels and revolutionaries who founded these United States. Might this time we see the world is our country and that all men and women are our sisters and brothers. Might this time our leaders seek to do good and be merciful and just. Might this time our media ask the questions too many of we the people, do not even know must be asked. Might this time our politicians be beholden to we the people and not to any foreign power.

"Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all...and passionate attachments for others should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave...a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils." - George Washington's Farewell Address, 1796.

Eileen Fleming, Reporter and Editor WAWA:

Author "Keep Hope Alive" and "Memoirs of a Nice Irish American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory"

Producer "30 Minutes With Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu"