28 February 2009

"To create a new...generation that really believes in peace."

Reposted from Jewish Peace News:

And Now For Something Completely Different

For a change of pace from our usual dose of death and destruction, an inspiring story:

The village of Ni'lin has paid a particularly high price for its struggle against the Wall and annexation of its lands, including two children who were shot and killed by the Israeli Army in the summer of 2008. Nevertheless, the people of the village continue to protest at least once a week against the Wall, joined by Israeli activists, in particular Anarchists Against the Wall, as well as international activists.

The article below tells the remarkable story of how the people of Ni'lin have put together an exhibit to honor International Holocaust Remembrance Day and commemorate the near destruction of European Jewry under the Nazis.

Activists who have been in Ni'lin recently told me that the reason they heard for the village committee putting together the exhibit was this: if Israeli activists care enough to come to their village to learn about the Palestinian struggle and act in solidarity with Palestinians, they feel obligated to learn Jewish history as well.

This is what solidarity looks like.

--Rebecca Vilkomerson

Ni'lin pays tribute to Jewish victims of the Holocaust
George H. Hale

BETHLEHEM – Every Friday, the West Bank village of Ni'lin is home to some of the most violent clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian, Israeli and international demonstrators.

Each week, activists from the village's Land Defence Committee stage demonstrations at the Separation Barrier which cuts off as much as half the village's farmland and water from its inhabitants.

As a reporter for a Palestinian news agency in Bethlehem, I too travelled to Ni'lin, but last weekend beheld a spectacle perhaps more remarkable than these weekly Barrier protests: Villagers had set up an exhibition to coincide with the United Nations-declared International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January, an exhibition organised by Ni'lin's Popular Committee Against the Wall.

Hassan Moussa, the exhibition's organiser, spoke to me over the phone from Ni'lin. And despite the hot-headed rhetoric coming from both sides that weekend (a number of protesters were tear-gassed just hours before), Moussa explained that the exhibit was organised with the most noble of intentions.

"This is a way of extending our sympathy for the Jews," and the Palestinians' way of extending that sympathy "to the Israeli people, themselves," he says.

"Nobody thinks war will lead to peace and security. It will lead to more violence and hatred and agony, as well as suffering to this area, which is neither in our interest, nor the Israelis."

Since late January the people of Ni'lin have opted to complement their demonstrations with something "to show the Israelis that we feel sorry for them."

As a Palestinian activist, Moussa says he also wants to convey his suffering: "My suffering will not lead to peace. When I lose my land, it's like losing your heart from your body."

The village's Municipality hosted the Holocaust Remembrance Exhibition at its headquarters in Ni'lin, where organisers say more than 1,000 visitors have paid tribute to the victims of Nazi atrocities committed against Europe's Jews.

The exhibition of posters and texts, provided by an Israeli Holocaust museum, details "the genocide that was committed against the Jewish people during the 1930s and 1940s in Germany and in other parts of Europe," Moussa explains.

"We admit that there was terrible pain inflicted on the Jewish people as a result of this genocide," he says. "We are feeling sorry for this genocide."

Moussa added that "the Palestinians have no connection at all with that genocide… It is our fate to live on this land so we have to live in peace—only peace can bring security," he explains.

"We feel sorry for you," Moussa says when pressed for his message to the Israeli people. "Our hand is extended in peace; we are ready to make peace with the Israeli government."

"We want peace for the people of Israel, and the people of Palestine and the people of the world, as well," he says. "This is our way to express this message; it is our message to the whole world."

The exhibit is not only intended for Israelis, though a number have attended. "Frankly speaking, the people who came and visited the exhibition, [for the] first time saw something about this genocide," Moussa says. "They heard some from their history books, but this is the first time they saw the pictures."

The most common Palestinian reaction after seeing the horrifying images, Moussa tells me, is that "they feel sorry; they feel really sorry for the [Jews], once they see the posters."

One in five of the village's 5,000 residents are estimated to have viewed the exhibition, with hundreds more from Israel and elsewhere in the West Bank. It is still open to the public at the village's municipality building.

"We received so many visitors," Moussa says. "Even some Israeli activists came to have a look at the exhibition." Particularly interested were those Israelis whose ancestors survived the Holocaust: "They came and they appreciated the idea."

"And they expressed their sorrow for us," Moussa notes. "Their message, as well as my message, is to create a new type of generation that really believes in peace."


* George Hale is a journalist with Ma'an News Agency, a Palestinian newswire. He lives in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. This article was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews).

Source: Common Ground News Service, 26 February 2009, www.commongroundnews.org.
Copyright permission is granted for publication.

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman
Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com
Jewish Peace News sends its news clippings only to subscribers. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or manage your subscription, go to http://www.jewishpeacenews.net

Dear President Obama: Please Stop Bombing Pakistan

Stop Bombing! Stop Imperialism! Put an end to policies of global hegemony!

Obama, you say you are a friend to the American People. Prove it. Kick the corporations out of Washington D.C..

You have the power to say "no." Please. Please, it's your duty.

If government doesn't protect people and planet against the harms and abuses of powerful businesses, industries and corporations, then what or whom will? The planet and humanity must be protected.

War is a Government RiotCurrently, the government of the USA is not protecting people. Currently, the government is more or less corporatist, and enabling and facilitating a system of corporate theft from the commons. The government of the USA is accomplice to social and environmental degradation.

The people and planet are not served by a government that is insufficient to the task of proper regulation against harmful economic activities. The people and planet certainly don't need a government that enables and works with corporations to promote these iniquitous controlling and imperial doctrines of hegemony.

Stop bombing Pakistan. Withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan!

Stop the global resource war! The problem are policies and practices of taking by force, of taking without asking -this is imperialism.

There are answers, which include (among many other concepts, ideas and specifics) curtailment, efficient use and finding alternatives.

But please: Stop Imperialism!

President Obama: Stop Bombing Pakistan!


This is a "mouseover." Try dragging the cursor (of the computer you're using) over the photograph. Sometimes it takes a few moments for the images to load. Patience is a virtue:


Howard Zinn: Against Discouragement

I just listened to an interview of Howard Zinn by David Barsamian, on Alternative Radio. I recommend it. Informative about politics, economics, and power. Here's a short description, which barely begins to capture the substance and depth of the program, and also a link to the program web-page at alternativeradio.org:
Howard Zinn: Against Discouragement

"It wasn't that long ago when the United States labeled the African National Congress as a terrorist organization. Its leader, Nelson Mandela languished for years in prison. Then because of massive grassroots movement and international support through boycott and divestment, Mandela is released and South Africa frees itself from its apartheid regime. Throughout history people have overcome tremendous odds to advance the cause of justice. Take the civil rights movement. What were African Americans up against? The entire apparatus of power from the courthouse to the statehouse was controlled by segregationists. And the federal government? Asleep at the wheel. Nevertheless, blacks organized and fought back against tremendous odds. The key to the struggle was collective action. There's an African proverb that captures that spirit, "If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.""
Really, great interview. Worth the cost of purchase.

26 February 2009

Interaction on Flickr: Speaking the Truth about Empire and Conquest

I often engage others in political discussion on the Internet. Flickr is a frequent locale for such discussion. The open format there, and focus on photographs, gives a really topical format which lends itself to discussion. Here's an example of a recent interaction:

Here's how to deal with Iran and N. Korea
Here's how to deal with Iran and N. Korea by Wayne in Indy.

America airpower can, alone, deliver massive devastation on military, government, and economic targets inside these nations with virtual impunity.


scarley says:

this is a really beautiful shot.

^Berd says:

Looks like something out of star wars - the evil empire strikes back.

Wayne in Indy says:

Thank you. Your definition of America as an "evil empire" illustrates with perfect clarity the stark contrast between how liberals and conservatives see America.

scarley says:

Scarlett is ashamed of people like ^Berd. Shame on you. SHAME ON YOU!!! These guys keep you SAFE! These guys are the product of freedom. They are the product of freedom to explore technology and science. Freedom to create! These wouldn't be if it were not for our freedom. And in this day in age, were it not for these, our freedom would be overrun.

Wayne in Indy says:

You're wasting your breath, Scar. He's commented on other of my photos. In Berd's view, America is the "evil" in the world. And he equates the idea of "America First" with "hatred". Get this: When I related my world-view to him, he bagan to ask me if I'd had a traumatic-type childhood!
It's the liberal mindset, Scar. If some Tyrone-from-the-ghetto type [check on the racism -berd] attacked and assaulted my wife, I'd happily blow the guy away without a second thought. If the same happened to Berd's wife, however, he'd likely try to "understand" what might have motivated the animal in question to perpetrate such a misdeed. Berd would likely conclude that the real criminal was George Bush because he didn't shovel more money into the ghettos which, in turn, caused the poor man to "strike out" at society.
Don't laugh. This is how these people think.

scarley says:

Oh I don't think it's funny at all. I think it's pitiful and shameful.

^Berd says:

Freedom to create—weapons of mass destruction. What an irony.

These machines are used as tools of empire and conquest. That's not creative. That's destructive. These machines are used to wage war and instill fear in those whom are opposed to the military and economic juggernaut of the USA.

The USA has so much potential to be a truly uplifting and constructive force in the world. But the current situation, the status quo is of tremendous harm. The current economic reality is one of planetary environmental and social degradation.

The USA is on the road to empire. The USA is on the road to ruin.

To save our republic - Stop our empire!

All human beings deserve to be treated equally and fairly.

Oppression, in all of its forms, must be challenged, opposed and eradicated. Another world is possible. A world where human beings belong to a universal fellowship of love, respect and tolerance of personal differences... Another world is possible. A world where cooperation—not conquest—is the principle. A world where people everywhere share, and hold in trust for all, the limited resources afforded by this wonderful planet.

25 February 2009

Chronology of Recent Situation in Gaza

From the Free Gaza Movement:
GAZA CHRONOLOGY June 19 – Dec. 27, 2008
Written by Anis
19th June:
Ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Hamas government comes into force for six months. Israel insisted on a verbal agreement. It stated: cessation of all military hostilities on both sides, opening of Gaza's borders after 72 hours for 30% more trade, unrestricted trade after ten days. Egypt supports the extension of the agreement to the West Bank. (source: International Crisis Group: Ending the War in Gaza. Middle East Briefing No. 26, 5.1.2009, p. 3)

19th June
Israeli warships fire four rockets at Palestinian fishermen in Palestinian waters. On the same day aircraft circling over Gaza City break the sound barrier near the ground and trigger a panic among the people. In the area of Khan Yunis Israeli patrols shoot over the border fence at farmers who work on their fields on the other side of the border. (source: Ma'an, 26.06.2008). This scenario is repeated almost daily.
24th June:
Two young officials of Jihad are murdered in their homes in Nablus by units of the IDF (Israeli Defence Force). On the same day al-Quds Brigades fire three rockets at Sderot in retaliation. (source: Ma'an 24.06.2008) The Israeli side uses the action of Jihad as an excuse to close the border crossings again.

26th June:
The al-Aqsa Brigades fire a rocket on Sderot after many Fatah members have been arrested in raids by the Israeli army. With this the al-Aqsa Brigades want to force the extension of the ceasefire to the West Bank. The spokesman of the Hamas government in Gaza warns the al-Aqsa Brigades that their actions would prevent the lifting of the blockade and favour instead the narrower interests of a organisational and political nature.

29th June:
A delegation of farmers complain to Hamas' Ministry of Agriculture that because of the Israeli bombardment they can no longer cultivate their fields along the border fence.

4th August:
During a meeting of the Israeli labour party the Minister of Defence, Ehud Barak, threatens a ground invasion into the Gaza strip, despite Hamas' adherence to the ceasefire.

8th August:
The director of the secret service Shin Bet, Yuval Diskin, thinks that a ceasefire would reduce the pressure on Hamas to release Shalit. He calls on the army to prepare for a major military offensive. (source: Ma'an 8.8.2008) These statements reinforce the impression among Palestinians that as far as the Israeli military leadership is concerned the purpose of the ceasefire is to gain time in order to prepare an offensive.

29th September:
The Israeli navy sinks a fishing boat (source: http://www.btselem.org/english/testimonies/20080910_israeli_navy_boat_charges_into_a_fishing_boat_witness_al_hasi.asp), after fishing boats were shot at and rammed several times.

4th November:
Israeli troops enter into Khan Yunis. Deliberately targeted projectiles kill six Hamas members and injure several people, including one woman. In the Deir al-Balah several rockets are fired at residential areas. Near Wadi Salqa two houses of the Hawaidi family are destroyed and seven family members, three of them women, are kidnapped and taken to Israel. The same day Israeli border guards prevent French consular officals, who want to get a picture of the situation, from entering the Gaza strip. (Some background information: the dubious tunneller Abu Dawabah is arrested and claims during interrogation that both Hamas and and al-Aqsa brigades had offered him money for kidnapping an Israeli soldier. (source: Ma'an 3.11.2008) One day later the Hamas Ministry of Internal Affairs issues a denial. (See also International Crisis Group: Ending the War in Gaza. Middle East Briefing No. 26, 5.1.2009, p.5)

5th November:
Residential areas in the north of the Gaza strip and Khan Yunis are bombarded. Israeli troops kill a leader of Jihad and six Hamas officials. Because of this, Hamas, the al-Aqsa Brigades and Jihad fire rockets into Israel. Until then Hamas fully observed the ceasefire. Jihad and the al-Aqsa Brigades state that the ceasefire will not prevent them from reacting to Israeli violations of the agreement. In spite of this, Hamas wants to continue the ceasefire and ask Egypt for mediation.

5th November:
The Gaza Strip is completely sealed off. Even food, medicine, fuel, spare parts for generators and water pumps, paper, telephones and shoes can no longer or only in minimal amounts enter the Gaza Strip.

8th November:
Israeli bulldozers enter into the strip at several points. This leads to armed clashes with the units of the DFLP.

9th November:
Hamas Chief Ismail Haniya declares to European delegates who had broken through the sea blockade with a boat of the Free Gaza Movement and visited Gaza that Hamas could live with a solution of the Palestine problem on the basis of UN Resolutions. (source: Ma'an 9.11.2008)

12th November:
A further four Hamas members are killed. Israeli airplanes fire rockets at residential areas. The Palestinian factions are getting ever more skeptical about the ceasefire. Israeli bulldozers cut a 150 metre swath into an area in the Gaza Strip for military patrols, destroying about 750 hectares of agrarian land. (source: Ma'an 21.11.2008)

13th November:
Israeli boarder patrols bar a UN food convoy from passing the border. The DFLP claims that for Israel this was not about the ceasefire, but about breaking resistance to the occupation. In the following days the PFLP, the DFLP, the Popular Committees and Hamas fire projectiles at Israeli places while Israeli airplanes bomb the north of the Gaza Strip.

16th November:
The Israeli Minister of Transport calls for killing the whole Hamas leadership. During new attacks another four members of the Popular Committees are killed. By now 15 people have been killed during the air strikes in recent days. The Popular Committees declare the end of the ceasefire. Their spokesperson blames Israel.

17th November:
The DLFP and Jihad fire rockets into Israel.

18th November:
The food crisis gets worse and worse. 50% of the bakeries cannot operate anymore due of lack of flour. Others use animal feed to bake bread. Israeli tanks enter the strip, there are armed clashes with the PFLP and the mujaheddin, another resistance group of Fatah. The Israeli Navy arrest 15 fishermen and three foreign solidarity activists off the coast of Gaza. The "Internationals" accompanied the fishermen in the hope that their presence would guarantee a minimum of protection. They are taken to Israel and get expelled after six days of solitary confinement. (source Ma'an 18.11.2008). The three fishing boats were given back after 9 days, but one boat was damaged, the GPS device was missing. During their days in prison, the solidarity workers were barred from contacting their lawyers and their embassies. (source: http://www.freegaza.org/de/home/547-three-palestinian-fishing-boats-returned and http://www.freegaza.org/de/home/558-kidnapped-in-gaza]

20th November:
Yet again a Hamas member is killed by targeted rocket strikes. Hamas increasingly comes under pressure from the other groups as well as their own base, who demand they force Israel to keep to the ceasefire. But how?

23th November
Diplomatic sources claim that the Egyptians stepped in and got Hamas and the Israeli government to agree to resume the ceasefire according to the conditions originally negotiated. This is confirmed by Hamas. Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha furthermore states that the other resistance groups also agree to the continuation of the ceasefire - on condition that the blockade is lifted. Israel does not comment on this.

24th November:
A member of the Popular Committee is killed by an Israeli rocket. After Israeli claims that rockets were fired – but no one claimed responsibility for that - the Israeli Minister of Defense Barak retracts the order to open the border for urgently needed food deliveries. As far back as August rockets had been fired on several occasions from the Gaza Strip to the Negev desert, without claim of responsibility, which led to the closure of the border each time. At the time Hamas leader Mammud al-Zahhar accused Israeli agents of creating a pretext for a land invasion. (source Ma'an 12.9.2008). Also at the time the names of groups nobody in Gaza had heard of before and knew anything about crop up such as Ahrar al-Jalil, Tawhid Brigades or Hisb Allah. Some believe they are collaborators wanting to corrupt the ceasefire. Other voices believe they are small radical cells who think Hamas have made too many concessions.

28th November:
The Israeli army kills a man from Khan Yunis, who doesn't belong to any organisation. On the same day eight Israeli soldiers are injured at a boarder border post through attacks by the mujaheddin.

30th November:
Jihad declare they no longer feel bound by the ceasefire. The al-Aqsa Brigades fire projectiles at Sderot again. Hamas and Jihad are warned by mediators from Qatar that Israel plans a major military offensive in the Gaza Strip. The political leadership of Hamas issues an urgent appeal to armed groups including their own al-Qassam Brigades to stop firing rockets into Israel.

2nd December:
Israeli tanks enter the Gaza Strip again. Two teenagers are killed in air strikes.

4th December:
Al-Aqsa Brigades fire rockets at Ashkelon.

5th December:
Massive assaults by Jewish settlers on Palestinians in Hebron. While the al-Aqsa Brigades, the DFLP and the al-Quds Brigades of the Jihad fire rockets at Israeli places as a reaction to the events in the West Bank, Hamas organises solidarity demonstrations with Palestinians in Hebron to rescue what is left of the ceasefire agreement.

7th December:
The blockade in the Gaza Strip is getting more severe. A boat from Israel with peace activists wanting to bring food and gifts for children to Gaza on the occasion of the feast of sacrifice is forced to turn back by Israeli warships. The same fate befalls a boat from Qatar and another one from Libya, both of which want to deliver food to Gaza.

13th December:
Tzipi Livni states that in case a Palestinian state is set up the Palestinian people living in Israel would be expatriated. By now no organisation thinks there is any purpose in extending the ceasefire. Brigades of the DFLP, al-Aqsa, the Popular Committees and Jihad fire at Israeli places on a regular basis. The political leadership of Hamas in Gaza, especially the de facto president Haniya has no means of preventing this, because even their own armed faction, the al-Qassam Brigades, no longer see any sense in the ceasefire.

14th December:
The Hamas leadership abroad states through Khaled Mashaal that Hamas reject an extension of the ceasefire, whereas Haniya still hopes that Egypian mediation will help achieve an extension.

19th December:
On the same day the six-month-ceasefire ends all factions declare at separate mass events that they consider the ceasefire to be finished – even Fatah.

20th December:
Fawzi Barhum, the spokesman of Hamas, calls on all factions to form a common resistance front. His acerbic reply to the Russian demand that Hamas should consider the extension of the ceasefire is that the onus was now on the international community to put pressure on Israel to cease the attacks on the Palestinian people, instead of blaming the victims of these attacks. (source: Ma'an 21.12.2008) But the Egyptians do not react.

23th December:
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hamas government, Mahmud al-Zahhar, declares once again that Hamas is prepared to continue with the ceasefire agreement, provided Israel adheres to the conditions agreed in June, in particular the lifting of the blockade. But the discourse of al-Qassam Brigades is more subdued. Abu Ubaida, spokesman of al-Qassam Brigades, speaks only about the possibility of suspending the military action and no longer about a ceasefire and does not exclude any military action in Israel if Israel does not stop its agression against Gaza. (source: Ma'an 23.12.2008)

27th December:
The Israeli military attacks the Gaza Strip, killing about 1,360 people, mostly civilians including more than 400 children, by 18th January 2009. Many thousands are injured and made homeless. Israel uses phosphorus as a weapon, turns over a cemetery, shoots at the UN, schools, mosques etc. About 13 people die on the Israeli side, some of them are killed by their own soldiers. The West puts the whole blame for the catastrophe on Hamas.

The Militarism of the State of Israel

Who, or what, does the militarism of the State of Israel serve? Anyone?

I argue not. I argue that this militarism serves no one. Not Israelis. Not Jews. Not Americans. Certainly not Palestinians.

Maybe you can argue that it serves the interests of US Imperialism in the Middle East. Maybe you can argue that it serves the interests of the military industrial complex (and associated interests.) But it does not.

This timeless quotation speaks to that:
"What is morally wrong can never be advantageous, even when it enables you to make some gain that you believe to be to your advantage." – Marcus Tullius Cicero (January 3, 106 BC – December 7, 43 BC)
Militarism and violence truly serve no one. Militarism and violence, and hate, only serve the cause of destruction, and social and environmental degradation.

I support Israel. I support a Jewish homeland, and a refuge from a world that all too often targets people, or groups of people, based on differences. I am not against Israel. But Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people is unacceptable and intolerable. The subjugation, the systematic racism, the apartheid - a situation that can rightly be described as bordering on genocide - is totally unacceptable.

This situation is not only wrong for Palestinians. It is also wrong and harmful for Israelis.

If Israel wants peace, then it must treat Palestinians like human beings. Israel will have to afford Palestinian people the dignity and respect they deserve as human beings. It's really that simple.

The violence committed by Palestinians against Israelis is no more acceptable than the violence committed by Israelis against Palestinians. No more, and no less, acceptable. The difference is that Palestinians have been subjected, for decades now, to oppression, including but certainly not limited to forced re-locations, and all sorts of humiliating and harmful actions committed by the State of Israel. Palestinians act out in violence - they react - because they are so utterly oppressed and impoverished, they also act in a self-defense that I believe can rightly be argued as more legitimate than any such notion of self-defense by the State of Israel.

Yes, the situation is horrible. If it is to get better, both sides will have to be able to sit down across from each other at the same table. This can only happen if Israel is willing. Palestinians are willing to talk. Why isn't Israel?

Is it because the State of Israel is not willing to share land with Palestinians?

It is time for reconciliation on this matter. The subjugation of Palestinians by the Israelis and the State of Israel is intolerable. I will leave you with this quote that gets to the heart of social and environmental degradation:
"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect." - Aldo Leopold (January 11, 1887 – April 21, 1948)
Peace be unto you.

We will all be served by a society and a culture which seeks justice, fairness, equity and equitableness. Let us work toward egalitarianism.

Counter fear, violence and hate — with love. Replace conquest with cooperation. Peace is the way. Be peace.

24 February 2009

Planetary Economic Crisis

From TomDispatch.com:
A Planet at the Brink

Will Economic Brushfires Prove Too Virulent to Contain?
By Michael T. Klare

The global economic meltdown has already caused bank failures, bankruptcies, plant closings, and foreclosures and will, in the coming year, leave many tens of millions unemployed across the planet. But another perilous consequence of the crash of 2008 has only recently made its appearance: increased civil unrest and ethnic strife. Someday, perhaps, war may follow.

As people lose confidence in the ability of markets and governments to solve the global crisis, they are likely to erupt into violent protests or to assault others they deem responsible for their plight, including government officials, plant managers, landlords, immigrants, and ethnic minorities. (The list could, in the future, prove long and unnerving.) If the present economic disaster turns into what President Obama has referred to as a "lost decade," the result could be a global landscape filled with economically-fueled upheavals.


21 February 2009

A Theft from the People

To the U.S. Government and its keepers:
Stop stealing from the American People. Stop collecting tax monies to support a system that is harmful and destructive. Instead of spending money on war of aggression, on conquest, domination and imperialism—spend the money on projects which uplift humanity, spend the money on projects which are true to the service of life...

Stop spending money on death and destruction. Support projects that bring people closer toward one another. Support education, so people can better understand the world and each other, and become more tolerant and accepting.

Stop this thievery. Stop doing the bidding of a few powerful businesses and industries, and instead re-orient the system toward serving the best and common interests of all people in terms of the need for meaningful employment; healthy food, water and air; education; and a stable and truly sustainable economy.

Stop engaging in and enabling harmful economic activities.
(What is harmful? Let's have that discussion.)

[edit 2/25/09: Also in need of discussion is the necessity to invest in truly sustainable infrastructure - as opposed to simply aiming economic stimulus toward propping up this same old tired and broken, and iniquitous, system.

Additionally, the topic of education is of vital importance to addressing the need for knowledgeable, aware and capable individuals upon whom a great burden of reckoning will be placed in years to come.]

20 February 2009

State Legislative Hearing on Bills Relating to Isthmus

Hearing RoomJust posted a short article at Olyblog on Washington State Senate Hearing on Isthmus Related Bills: olyblog.net/state-legislative-hearing-bills-relating-isthmus

Thomas Merton Quote

"There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist …most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful."

-- Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

19 February 2009

Against Hate: Against Violence

It astounds me how someone who is (or claims to be) against racism can be hateful.

I am against hate. I believe that hate and fear underlie many social ills, including racism, prejudice, intolerance of personal differences like age, gender, sexual preference, religion, ethnicity, and race.

So hate in and of itself is the problem. There is no good hate.

It's very frustrating to see supposed progressives, or radicals, engaging in hateful behavior. Very sad.

Healing is in order.

Definitions of Hate:

The most simple definition is "intense feelings of dislike."

From Wikipedia: "Aristotle viewed hate as a desire for the annihilation of an object that is incurable by time."

Also from Wikipedia: "In psychology, Sigmund Freud defined hate as an ego state that wishes to destroy the source of its unhappiness."

Wikipedia again: "In a more contemporary definition, the Penguin Dictionary of Psychology defines hate as a "deep, enduring, intense emotion expressing animosity, anger, and hostility towards a person, group, or object.""

On Hate Speech, from Wikipedia:
Hate speech is a term for speech intended to degrade, intimidate, or incite violence or prejudicial action[citation needed] against a person or group of people based on their race, gender, age, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, language ability, ideology, social class, occupation, appearance (height, weight, hair color, etc.), mental capacity, and any other distinction that might be considered by some as a liability. The term covers written as well as oral communication and some forms of behaviors in a public setting[citation needed]. It is also sometimes called antilocution[citation needed] and is the first point on Allport's scale which measures prejudice in a society. Critics have claimed that the term "Hate Speech" is a modern example of Newspeak, used to silence critics of social policies that have been poorly implemented in a rush to appear politically correct.
I am against hate, and against violence. Until we can learn to sit down and resolve our differences in a constructive manner, there will always be people, even those supposedly working for justice, who will oppress and beat down on those with whom they have differences.
Violence is the Problem, NOT the SolutionThomas Merton: "I am against war, against violence, against violent revolution, for peaceful settlement of differences, for nonviolent but nevertheless radical changes. Change is needed, and violence will not really change anything: at most it will only transfer power from one set of bull-headed authorities to another."
Hate and violence are unacceptable and intolerable. In Peace, Berd

17 February 2009

Water World

I had hoped to attend tonight's City Council Meeting to talk about a couple different topics related to water. Well there wasn't a meeting. Anyway, the water related topics: one relates to the maintenance of an Artesian Well in downtown Olympia. The other relates to the restoration of the Deschutes River Estuary.

The Artesian Well is used by a wide variety of community members. It is an attractor, serving to bring people to downtown Olympia. It is also a critical resource for people who need access to the water, for whatever reason. I believe that access to safe, clean, potable water is a human right. The well is important for a number of reasons. Water is a critical element in life, including that of humans. Protecting this community resource, this tremendous community asset, is important. Water is a symbol of our common humanity. It is something we all share. Our bodies are composed of roughly on the order of 70% water. Many people from all socio-economic strata and backgrounds use the well. So let's honor this important community resource and do what it takes to ensure continuing open and free access to this wonderful and magical free-flowing Artesian well water.

Secondly, on the issue of the CLAMP, I am curious about how the City of Olympia is approaching the matter of the Capitol Lake. My understanding is that some deliberations are taking place, or did take place, last week. On this issue I feel it is the right move to work toward restoration of the estuary. This society has committed massive damages against the natural environment. For example, wild salmon runs are decimated. The opportunity to restore the estuary is just that, an opportunity—and an excellent way to move forward as a community in terms of environmental remediation, restoration of an important natural ecosystem, and amelioration of harms relating to our relationship with the natural world.

Peace, Berd

Two Weeks Ago

I already posted this, but want to return to a letter I wrote a couple weeks ago to advocate dropping charges against the Oly 26. This group of people protested against the use of the municipal port for the shipment of military cargoes related to the occupation of Iraq. Drop Charges Against Oly 26 Protesters

Space Junk

Satellites Collide in Low Earth Orbit

Ohanapecosh River

Ohanapecosh River
Mount Rainier, August 2008

Sunlight on the Bridge

14 February 2009

Recent Blogging

I have been doing more blogging recently on OlyBlog. Here's a link to my blog there: olyblog.net/blog/berd.

A couple posts in particular include a repost of an article by Kathy Kelly about military weapons in relation to Israel/Palestine. I ask the question of whether it is ethical to derive financial profit from the sale of military hardware and /or weapons. Kathy Kelly: Report from Gaza

Also, I wrote about how it is time to End Foreign Policies of Dominance and Militarism.

A couple of recent photo blog posts: olyblog.net/more-photos-2142009-happy-valentines-day
and, olyblog.net/photographs-21309

12 February 2009

Hampshire College to Make Divestments from Israel

From Democracy Now!:
Hampshire College Becomes First U.S. College To Divest From Israel

The Board of Trustees at Hampshire College has agreed to divest from six companies because of their involvement in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Hampshire is believed to be the first U.S. college or university to divest from companies tied to the Israeli military. The companies are Caterpillar, United Technologies, General Electric, ITT Corporation, Motorola, and Terex. The Board agreed to the divestment following a two-year campaign by the campus group Students for Justice in Palestine. 32 years ago Hampshire College became the first school to divest from apartheid South Africa.

11 February 2009

Charges of Anti-Semitism

When discussing potentials to boycott Israel regarding its oppression, its dehumanizing activities, its subjugation of Palestinians, and its Apartheid, some have raised concerns of being attacked for anti-Semitism. There has been discussion of this issue recently on the "Jewish Peace News" bulletin.

Here's a link to and an excerpt from a comment I recently posted there:
To boycott or not, and if not, then what?
"In fact, I think a winning argument can be made that the real anti-Semitism is on the part of those who support Israel's racist, cruel and degrading policies of occupation and apartheid."

07 February 2009

9 Mouseovers (See a little bit of Olympia through photographs)

Get to know Olympia, a little bit, through photographs...

9 Mouseovers

Here's an example of a mouseover. Move the cursor (of the computer you are using) over the image:

State Avenue Descent with Venus

06 February 2009

Tonight I was Attacked

I am still feeling quite under the weather with a cold. But I made an effort to attend the Friday Oly FOR Peace Vigil anyway. I only lasted about 30 or 40 minutes. But I am glad that I showed up. Afterward I went out for some dinner, which helped me to feel better. Then I went to a café for some herbal tea. It was very bitter. But by the end of the cup I had almost acquired a favorable taste for it —almost. It was called, "Quakes and Quivers." Anyway, I am sure it has relieved some of the symptoms of my aches and pains. I am drinking a lot of fluids. Currently working on a cup of hot water with garlic.

At the café I ran into someone who I have some history with. I have never really been formally introduced to this person, but she was also involved with protests against military shipments via the Port of Olympia in 2007. For a long time now, whenever we chance to encounter one another, she has reacted by hissing at me. Yes, you read that right.

Last weekend, I was participating in the Westside Artswalk, and attended a house show. In between sets I encountered this young woman, who told me I had to leave, and that I was not welcome. I asked her if she had a reason, and she told me that she didn't have to give me a reason. She said it was her house and that she wanted me to leave. I told her that I'd like to stay. But she insisted. So I didn't object. I grabbed my bag and left. On the way out I told her that I was very sorry for whatever it was that I did to offend her. And I wished her to have a good night. It was kind of an intense encounter. I don't take kindly to being excluded.

So, it was a twinge of protective energy I felt when I saw her sitting in the café that I entered earlier tonight. I ordered tea, talked to the barista for a while, then sat down at a table with some other people, and talked with them while I drank my bitter Quakes and Quivers. After a while the woman who hisses at me passed by me on her way out of the café. I watched her leave, and I made myself available for eye-contact, which is my custom. She made eye-contact back with me, which seemed to really piss her off. It looked like she was almost about to re-enter the café to say something to me. But she left.

I finished my tea, which only took another couple minutes or so. And then I left.

I grabbed my bicycle, which was unlocked, and started to head for home. She was still outside the café, unlocking her bike. She was in the direction I was going, so I walked by, and waved at her - something which apparently really raises her ire.

Anyway, we had a 5 minute or so interaction in which she demonstrated tremendously insulting and mean behavior toward me. I can only describe her attitude as hateful.

I will leave out most of the details. It's hard for me to even think of the occurrence. I think I would need a therapist to lift it out of me.

But a few details included her angrily kicking the wheel of my bicycle, calling me a "snitch," and calling me "decadent." I asked her why I was a snitch, and she said she didn't have to tell me. I told that I think she's full of shit. She told me that I "am" shit.

She told me that I am ignorant. I disagreed and told her that I think I am quite knowledgeable. She said that I am full of myself. That I also disagreed with.

Anyway, there was some back and forth. I asked her questions, she told me to leave. She said she knows where I live and that she has a posse and that I should watch out lest I get hurt.

I wonder if she is hurtful and mean toward other people besides me, or if I have a special spot in her experience.

I wonder.

I was attacked by a woman whose name I don't know.

So. That's all I am going to write about that for now.

And I am not shit!

p.s. I just want to point out that bullies and oppressors come in all shapes and sizes. This young woman advertises herself as being opposed to the war. I wonder if she is an anarchist, because she is profoundly authoritarian, telling me that I am not to look at her, or gesture in her direction. Bullies can wear badges or bandannas. Her hatefulness was striking. Sad. It's sad, because we're supposedly working for some of the same goals... Or are we? I am not so sure. It's too bad she doesn't want to talk about it. It's too bad she prefers to level angry insults and call me names.

Hate is the enemy. Violence is the enemy.

Love, compassion, forbearance, tolerance, respect, truth, understanding — these are some of the solutions.

p.p.s. Stop hurting each other!

Thursday, the 5th of February, 2009: 21 Iraqis Killed, 19 Wounded

More occupation related deaths. Iraqis continue to be killed and to suffer as a result of the occupation. Anti-war.com keeps close track of reported deaths, here: updates
February 5, 2009
Thursday: 21 Iraqis Killed, 19 Wounded

A suicide bombing in Diyala province overshadowed today's release of provincial election results. Attacks against political candidates and other officials continued as well. Overall, at least 20 Iraqis were killed and 17 more were wounded across Iraq. No Coalition deaths were reported.

So sad to see the violence. And to know that it's all unnecessary: sickening.

05 February 2009

Divest from the Occupation

I am working with a group called TESC Divest Campaign. We believe that the situation in Israel and Palestine amounts to apartheid. Palestinians are horribly oppressed by the Israeli State. The State of Israel is, more and more, denying Palestinians basic human rights and dignity. The UN has found Israeli actions in violation of international law time and time again.

We are working to pressure the Administration of The Evergreen State College—specifically the Evergreen Foundation, to make its investments transparent, in order to insure the students, faculty, staff, alumni and the overall community that Evergreen is not supporting the horrible oppression and dreadful treatment of Palestinians by Israel.

I believe that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories hurts not only Palestinians, but also Israelis very much as well! So this is a nonviolent way to promote a change in the situation.

One of the arguments, in fact the only argument, that I have heard in favor of the status quo is that the current situation is expedient. The Evergreen Foundation has fiduciary responsibility to provide access to scholarships and grants for Evergreen Students. And it does a good job. There is significant money available. The bulk of the Evergreen Foundation funds are now with the University of Washington Consolidated Endowment Fund. The Evergreen Foundation has no control over day to day investing policies and practices at the CEF.

There is no transparency. There is no way for a member of the public, or a member of the institution (outside of the investment circles,) to know what the CEF monies are being invested in.

There is no discussion of a change to this policy. What we need is an ethical investment policy. What we need are ethical investment practices. It makes no sense to educate students in the ways of stopping the dragon of harmful economic activity, while feeding the dragon in order to fund the students' educations...

It is like giving people the swords to kill the dragon (of harmful economic activity), meanwhile shoveling food into its face to feed the voracious furnaces of its appetite for domination, destruction and violence.

Stop feeding the dragon. Make it weak. Make it possible for the righteous swords of justice, trained in the halls of our higher institutions, to have the best chance of killing the beast. Starve the beast. Starve the evil dragon of destructive economic activities.

Basically what I am saying is that it is time to grow up and stop playing pretend. We are causing harm here! Our investments enable harmful economic activities! The current status quo is feeding the destructive economies of militarism and conquest. It's time to wake up and realize the true roots of injustice. To see the springs of our discontent percolating to the surface in our very own community. It is time to make basic changes to the system, so that we are no long part and party to these horrible realities of economic destructiveness, human rights abuses, crimes against humanity, and crimes against peace.

What economic activities are more harmful than tyranny and military occupation and oppression of native peoples?

It's time to change. Yes, we can!

Let's evolve.

Let's revolutionize our relationships with each other and with the land. Let's learn to live with each other rather than at the sake of each other. Let's care for the Earth, not as though it is a commodity belonging to us - but as though it is a community to which we belong!

Okay. So. Where to start? How about: Who profits from the occupation? That seems like a good place.

I received an email from Jewish Peace News today pointing me to a site that seeks to answer just that question. Here's the link: http://www.whoprofits.org/


p.s. I am using the "sword" as an icon, and a metaphor for the pen, as in the writing instrument (these days its moreso the keyboard), and a metaphor for the power of words—especially the word of truth. The pen is mightier than the sword. The pen has much greater potential for nonviolent change than the sword. ...Use the pen with a mind and an eye for justice. The truth will out. The truth will prevail.

03 February 2009

Couple of Recent Posts on OlyBlog

Couple of recent posts on OlyBlog to draw your attention to:

1) Drop Charges Against Oly 26 Protesters: a group of 26 protesters is being charged with alleged crimes related to their efforts to oppose and resist the enabling of an illegal military operation via the use of municipal port facilities. These protesters ought to be hailed as heroes—not charged with crimes!

2) 13 Mouseovers: get to know Olympia via photography.


01 February 2009

January 31st Roundup

Here are some photos I made while out and about yesterday (prior to the Second Annual Westside Artswalk):
January 31, 2009
^Berd's January 31, 2009 set