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Archive for the ‘War & Peace’ Category



Ukraine + Flight 370 = Bad News for Neocons

Mar17

by: on March 17th, 2014 | No Comments »

In America the news is big business. That’s not news. Everyone realizes that the corporate mass media make their money by delivering readers, viewers, and listeners to advertisers. The bigger the audience delivered, the bigger the profit. So corporate news editors have to know what good entertainers know: what the audience wants and how to give it to them.

In late winter, 2014, it seemed that American news audiences wanted one thing above all else: a U.S. – Russia showdown over Ukraine. Why? Plenty of theories might be offered.

But reading the headlines themselves, one explanation seemed most obvious: Americans understood that their nation’s global prestige was on the line. Russian president Vladimir Putin was using Ukraine to test the will and resolve of the Obama administration. So Americans turned to the news each day to see whether their government would demonstrate enough strength to go on leading the international community.

At least that was the story.

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Lobby Fights To Boycott, Sanction & Divest From Free Speech

Mar17

by: on March 17th, 2014 | No Comments »

I wonder what would have happened back in the 1960′s if fat cat donors to U.S. universities demanded that school administrators ban anti-Vietnam war action on campus or else lose donations. Judging by the way some universities are caving to donors on the Israel-Palestine issue, it is just possible that the donors would have succeeded in crushing antiwar activity, cutting the legs out from the movement that ultimately forced the end of the Vietnam war. Fortunately the donors of the 60′s didn’t care as much about Vietnam as many of them do now about Israel so they did not threaten to tear up their donations. Today it is something else Donors across the country, organized by AIPAC and other components of the Netanyahu lobby, are threatening to cut university funding and administrators are caving.

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Israeli Women Who Have Stood Up to the Occupation for 26 Years

Mar13

by: Keren Manor & Shiraz Grinbaum on March 13th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

A Project by Keren Manor & Shiraz Girnbaum at Activestills.org (Crossposted from +972 Magazine)

In honor of International Women’s Day, Activestills paid tribute to more than a quarter century of anti-occupation activism by the ‘Women in Black’ group in Israel. Every Friday since 1988, the women have stood in themain squares of cities or at highway junctions with signs calling to end the Israeli occupation. Often spat at,cursed or violently harassed by passersby, they have become, for us, a symbol of persistence.


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The CIA May Have Just Ticked Off the Wrong Senator

Mar11

by: on March 11th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

Senator Feinstein

Photo courtesy office of Senator Dianne Feinstein

“If the Senate can declassify this report, we will be able to ensure that an un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation will never again be considered or permitted.” These are words that the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) will be pleased to have heard from Senator Dianne Feinstein. People of faith across the country (including the Rev. Dr. Diana Gibson and I) have been calling on her to pressure President Obama and the CIA to finish their review of the Senate’s comprehensive report on the CIA’s treatment of detainees since September 11th so that the report could be declassified and made public. Today, Senator Feinstein took to the floor of the Senate to reveal details about the CIA potentially having spied on the Senate AND the CIA seeking criminal charges against intelligence committee staffers.

Are we about to see Congress finally stand up and assert its power? Let’s hope so.

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Neocons Now Pushing For War With Russia

Mar10

by: on March 10th, 2014 | 5 Comments »

President Obama is not, apparently, going to be steamrolled into acting as if Russia is the Soviet Union and Ukraine is Czechoslovakia. (Not that we did anything in 1968.)

And I’m grateful for that. Just imagine if that crazed warmonger John McCain was president or even Mitt Romney (although Romney is not unstable so I don’t suggest they are the same).

Instead, we have Obama who seems to understand that the United States is limited in what we can do about Ukraine. And not just logistically either.

We are also limited by the fact that the U.S. has acted precisely the way Russia has dozens of times in the last century alone. Ukraine is on the Russian border. How far are we from Guatemala, El Salavador or Chile? How far away was Iran when we overthrew its government in 1953? How far away is Iraq which we invaded and destroyed or Afghanistan where we provided the arms to put the mujaheddin in power who are now the Taliban, a curse from which that country is unlikely ever to recover?

Not surprisingly, the same people who promoted the Iraq war and now want the U.S. to bomb Iran (or let Israel do it) or pushing for action against Russia. You can call them the neocons or the Kristol-Joe Lieberman-Dershowitz-Krauthammer-Perle-Feith-Peretz gang, who always want us to be tough, lest someday we won’t defend Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. (These guys are all about Israel, nothing else.)

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Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) and the American Jewish Community

Mar7

by: Donna Nevel on March 7th, 2014 | 40 Comments »

Credit: Jewish Voice for Peace

Many American Jewish organizations claim to be staunch supporters of civil and human rights as well as academic freedom. But when it comes to Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, they make an exception. In their relentless opposition to BDS, they leave even core principles behind.

The Palestinian-led call for BDS, which began in 2005 in response to ongoing Israeli government violations of basic principles of international law and human rights of the Palestinian people, is a call of conscience. It has strengthened markedly over the last few years among artists, students, unions, church groups, dockworkers, and others. Media coverage of endorsers of the boycott has gone mainstream and viral. Recent examples include Stephen Hawking’s refusal to go to Jerusalem for the Presidential Conference, the successful campaign surrounding Scarlett Johansson’s support for Soda Stream and its settlement operation, and the American Studies Association (ASA) resolution that endorsed boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

Alongside BDS’s increasing strength have come increasingly virulent attacks on, and campaigns against it. These attacks tend to employ similar language and tactics – as if the groups are all cribbing from the same talking points – including tarring BDS supporters as “anti-Semitic” and “delegitimizers.”

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Ash Wednesday Worship and Arrests at Beale

Mar5

by: on March 5th, 2014 | No Comments »

Ash Wednesday Arrestees at Beale

Today, on Ash Wednesday, I participated in a deeply meaningful worship service and nonviolent direct action against drones at the gate of Beale Air Force Base. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “My body is tired but my soul is rested.” Actions of faith and conscience are good for the soul. You can see KCRA’s coverage here and a video of the arrests here.

The worship service was exquisite. Although today is a Christian holy day and we used traditional Christian symbols in worship, the service was unique in that it was open to and inclusive of people of all faiths and philosophies. It included a prayer in the four directions based on Indigenous spirituality, the World Peace Prayer (from the Hindu religion), and a Hebrew song introduced by Rabbi Seth Castleman. I was reminded of the passover we celebrated in the same spot outside the same Beale gate last year.

Today’s Ash Wednesday service included both personal and national repentance, particularly related to U.S. militarism and drone warfare. We celebrated Holy Communion and used ashes as a sign of repentance and mortality. The “passing of the peace” included some people carrying the message of peace to the TV crew and Beale officers. Several participants told me that it was the most meaningful Ash Wednesday service they had ever attended.

Following the service, five of us, including two other ordained ministers, walked across the boundary line onto base property. We sprinkled ashes that represented the ashes of children killed by U.S. drones. Some of us carried crosses with artistic renditions of some of these children, with their names, ages, and countries of origin.

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Ukraine: What is Really Going On

Mar4

by: on March 4th, 2014 | 9 Comments »

One thing I’m sure of is that media accounts available in the United States are so tainted by anti-Russia and U.S. nationalist and capitalist interests that we have no idea of what is really happening in Ukraine.

It is clear that the U.S. involvement is not “out of the blue,” but part of an ongoing campaign to increase NATO power and Western economic penetration of the countries surrounding Russia, stimulating for some Russians reminders of the previous trauma of being attacked by the Nazis and others through the Ukraine, where pro-fascist, anti-communist and anti-Semitic sentiments ran strong and welcomed foreign interventions. While we at Tikkun have some doubts about parts of the analyses by Robert Parry and Norman Solomon presented below, I am sharing them because they have the advantage of momentarily challenging the dominant discourse, though in ways that represent its own peculiar perspective. And they do have some plausibility – we know that much of the neo-con perspective on the world is based on an amalgam to two somewhat different commitments that have been welded together:

1. The neo-cons whose primary goal is to maintain and expand the U.S. economic and political empire, and

2. The neo-cons whose primary goal is to protect Israel and destroy all of its potential enemies– a list that grows longer and longer as long as Israel retains its dominance over the Palestinian people and denies them fundamental human rights.


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Fear Not Pentagon Head Games About Love For Your Country

Mar3

by: on March 3rd, 2014 | 4 Comments »

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey. Credit: Creative Commons

As Russia invades Crimea and once again throws international norms into the garbage disposal as it has done with its backing of Bashar al-Assad, a crash course in the origins of this early 21st century Russian aggression is offered by Uri Friedman of The Atlantic. The article is worth consulting if you want to understand how the foreign policy chest-thumpers in the U.S. – now predictably thumping anew in the Ukraine crisis – helped pave the way for the geopolitical conditions that have so emboldened Putin. Friedman cites a report from Russia specialist Nicu Popescu who attributes Russia’s assertiveness to four key factors, including “The retreat of the West from the world stage after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which creates an opening for Russia.”

Knowing that America overextended in Iraq and Afghanistan, and knowing that our body politic – including the formerly jingoistic freedom fry types – is swinging our foreign policy pendulum in the opposite direction, the gay-bashing blonde thug of Moscow has smelled conquest and control opportunities galore. To boot, Putin has to know that a nation that would sacrifice nearly 5,000 soldiers and hundreds of billions of dollars from its treasury to transform what was an effective no-fly zone over Saddam Hussein’s Iraq into an air bridge of weaponry from Iran to Assad’s Syria not only has A) no clue whatsoever about its own geopolitical interests, but B) has no clue because it has ceded most of its entire military to people who are motivated by their own pecuniary interests, not national ones, from the top of the ranks to newest 18 and 19-year-old for-pay soldiers.

Will anything change? Will the American people wake up and smell the coffee of the war profiteers, high and low, who are devouring the U.S. treasury and serving as de facto bricklayers for Vladimir Putin’s yellow brick road to multi-theater dominance, from Crimea to Syria?

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Rabbis Defend Colleagues Against AIPAC

Mar1

by: on March 1st, 2014 | 3 Comments »

One of the first acts taken by New York’s Mayor Bill De Blasio was to convene a secret meeting with AIPAC to tell the lobby that he will always do whatever it wants. This is, of course, typical behavior for New York politicians but rather surprising coming from a progressive like De Blasio rather than the likes of Ed Koch, Al D’Amato or Chuck Schumer. The only indication that De Blasio knew that what he was doing was wrong was his insistence that the meeting be kept secret. This is also an indication of how toxic AIPAC has become for liberals. (Read the full story of the secret AIPAC meeting here)

Shortly after the meeting, the senior rabbis at Congregation Bnai Jeshurun In Manhattan, Rolando Matalon and Felicia Sol, signed a letter to De Blasio which stated that AIPAC does not speak for them. Within hours, a few of the congregational big shots (big money, AIPAC members) condemned the two rabbis and began organizing the congregation against them. This is, of course, what AIPAC types do. Prohibit free thinking on Israel. (They, of course, are all for free speech on all matters relating to the United States.)

The point of the AIPAC efforts is to make the rabbis fear for their jobs. (More than most, I know how that works.) And if the rabbis don’t back down, their jobs could indeed be in jeopardy, in theory at least.

But here’s the thing. Bnai Jeshurun is perfectly suited to its community and so are its rabbis. Located in the heart of Bella Abzug/Ted Weiss country, the congregation is known nationally as one of the safest places to be ethical, spiritual and Jewish especially for young people. I say safe because young people avoid synagogues in general because you never know when the rabbi will start ranting about Iran or reading from AIPAC talking points. That won’t happen at Bnai Jeshurun, which is why, unlike pretty much any other synagogue in America, it is actually a cool place to be on Friday nights. (My younger son lives right nearby so I’ve see the crowds of kids filling the place.)

In short, the rabbis not only did the moral thing in speaking out against AIPAC, it did the right thing for their business: keeping Bnai Jeshurun viable and appealing to Jews (especially the young) who simply cannot stand AIPAC or Netanyahu, if they think about them at all. In other words, the Jews of their community.

Nonetheless, AIPAC now has it in for the rabbis. But, happily, hundreds of other rabbis and Jewish lay leaders are pushing back. Read the letter below. Look at those names. (Hey, where are Rabbis David Saperstein and Eric Yoffie? Oh yeah, they are at the AIPAC conference.) And be hopeful about the future of Jews, at least at Bnai Jeshurun where Judaism trumps politics. Hang in there, rabbis. Judaism’s future depends on people like you. And Israel’s too.

Do not miss the best line in the letter which sums up how the organized “mainstream” Jewish community operates:

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