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Labor Leader Eliseo Medina on Fasting for Immigration Reform, Organizing with Cesar Chavez

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Labor Leader Eliseo Medina on Fasting for Immigration Reform, Organizing with Cesar Chavez

Democracy Now: December 13, 2013

Guest
Eliseo Medina, former SEIU international secretary-treasurer. He resigned, saying he wanted to work full-time on winning comprehensive immigration legislation.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has finished its work for the year without passing comprehensive immigration reform. On Thursday, leaders from both parties promised to revisit the issue early in the new year. Meanwhile, outside the White House, more than a thousand immigration activists descended on the offices of House lawmakers on Thursday to protest the House’s inaction on the issue. They held vigils and shared their personal stories at the offices of more than 190 House Republicans and four House Democrats.

AMY GOODMAN: The demonstrations came as the immigration reform organization Fast for Families concluded 31 days of fasting. During a press conference on the National Mall, activists broke their fast with bread and water, vowed to continue pushing for an immigration reform bill that includes a cessation to deportations and a pathway to citizenship. The fasters had set up a tent on the National Mall and received visits from high-profile guests, like, oh, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Last month, President Obama praised the fasters’ resolve.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Right now, I’m seeing brave advocates who have been fasting for two weeks in the shadow of the Capitol, sacrificing themselves in an effort to get Congress to act. And I want to say to Eliseo Medina, my friend from SEIU, and the other fasters who are there as we speak, I want them to know we hear you. We’re with you. The whole country hears you.

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we go to Washington, D.C., where we’re joined by Eliseo Medina. He served as international secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union until October 1st. He resigned saying he wanted to work full-time on winning comprehensive immigration legislation. Medina recently spent 22 days on a water-only fast as part of the action by “A Fast for Families: A Call for Immigration Reform and Citizenship.” He worked alongside labor leader Cesar Chavez for 13 years. His career as a labor activist began in 1965, when, as a 19-year-old grape picker, he participated in the historic United Farm Workers strike in Delano, California.

Eliseo Medina, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you talk about why you fasted and what you feel you have accomplished, now that the House has ended without passing immigration reform?

ELISEO MEDINA: Well, thank you, Amy. First of all, you know, we were haunted by the fact that last year 463 people died in the desert trying to come to the United States in search of a better life. Over two million people have been deported from the United States. And, you know, these are numbers, but beyond those numbers, there’s real people, real human beings, with families who love them and who they love. And they will never be back with their families because they died in the desert. Or children are left behind when their mom or dad are deported, and they cry themselves to sleep wondering when they will see their parents again. And we just couldn’t stand to continue to see this human suffering that’s going on in our community, so we decided that we would go on a fast to dramatize, to put a human face on this moral crisis facing our country.

And I feel very fortunate that we touched the heart of America. We had thousands and thousands of people joining our fast, not only the United States, but around the world. I think that we managed to unify all sectors of our community in support of immigration reform. And even though the Congress left town without doing anything about immigration reform, I think that there’s no doubt that they have to do something now. And we are going to keep pushing. We are taking our fast out into every congressional district, so that when they come back to Washington in January, they will have to act and finish the work of creating a just and humane immigration system.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Eliseo, we’ve heard this, though—that we’re near or possibly close to some kind of a solution on immigration reform now for several years. Back in 2007, there was a possibility of a deal then. Yesterday, I think in Los Angeles, a city councilman, Gil Cedillo, and some other California politicians began calling for President Obama to act himself, if nothing is done by Congress within the next few months. They’re calling for him to use his own executive authority, as he did with the DREAMers, to basically halt massive deportations that have been occurring under his administration. What’s your sense of whether that should be the next step if nothing happens, let’s say, in January and February from the new Congress?

ELISEO MEDINA: Well, I think that this is a shared responsibility and that both the president and the Congress have authority within the Constitution to do certain things. The president, for example, has the power, through executive authority, like he did with the DREAMers, to provide some relief to all of this deportations that are going on that are tearing families apart. But the president is also right that the only permanent solution is for the Congress to reform the immigration laws. And we will be pushing really hard to make sure that the Congress in fact does act. But in the meantime, I think the president needs to really take a look and prioritize the enforcement of the laws through the Department of Homeland Security to focus on criminals, not on everyday workers.

AMY GOODMAN: You were sitting next to him as you were fasting and he came to visit. What did you talk to him about? And did you ask him about that?

ELISEO MEDINA: We did. We shared with him the stories of families who have been torn apart by deportation. And he heard us. I think that he was moved, as was the first lady, by story after story about the impact of this system. And the president told us he was going to continue looking at this and would work with us to figure out how we could work this out. And we’re hopeful that as the days goes on, that hopefully we’ll be able to figure out a way of stopping this pain and suffering that still continues today in our communities.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Eliseo, in late November, a young Korean immigrant rights activist, Ju Hong, interrupted a speech President Obama was giving about immigration reform.

JU HONG: Mr. President, please use your executive order to halt deportations for all 11.5 undocumented immigrants in this country right now. We agree that we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform at the same time. You have a power to stop deportations for all undocumented families in this country.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Actually, I don’t. And that’s why we’re here. … The easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws. And what I’m proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve. But it won’t be as easy as just shouting. It requires us lobbying and getting it done.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was President Obama responding to a young immigrant rights activist. But, Eliseo, we have this situation that every day of delay is another thousand to 1,200 people that are being deported from the United States, and families continue to be torn apart now, for the next several weeks through the holidays and into January and February. This—do you see a ramping up in January and February of the pressure, or will the—both the Democrats and Republicans, as we get closer to next year’s midterm elections, begin to try to get away from having to take a firm stand on immigration reform?

ELISEO MEDINA: Well, you know, we are already planning to take our fast from Washington out into every congressional district in the country, where we are going to be going to the congress person’s district and have conversations with their constituents about why this immigration reform needs to be done as fast as possible. There is no option for us. We cannot continue to allow deportations and deaths in the desert. And so we will be pressing Congress to act, and we will also be asking the president to also take a look and act within his authority.

But, you know, at the end of the day, they will have to make a decision. Congress will have to make a decision whether they want to take a vote or not. If they decide not to, we know there’s an election coming in November of 2014 in which we get to vote—we, the people who care about this issue, and there’s millions and millions and millions of us. And we will be holding the Congress accountable for their actions or inactions as it pertains to immigration reform. If they won’t vote for us today, why should we vote for them tomorrow? And we want them to hear that loud and clear, that we also have a choice to make, and that choice is that we will remember who stood with us and who stood against us, when it comes time to vote in November of 2014. So, to make it simpler on everybody, just vote today. We can put this pain and suffering behind us, and then we can focus on the other issues that matter to this country during November of 2014.

AMY GOODMAN: Eliseo Medina, last month, a pair of immigrant teenagers confronted Speaker John Boehner at a Capitol Hill diner. Thirteen-year-old Carmen Lima shared her story and asked the speaker to commit to immigration reform.

CARMEN LIMA: I’m Carmen Lima.

SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Hi, Carmen.

CARMEN LIMA: I’m 13. And you’re a father, right?

SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Yeah.

CARMEN LIMA: So, how would you feel if you had to tell your kids at the age of 10 that you were never coming home?

SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: That wouldn’t be good.

CARMEN LIMA: I know. So, that’s what’s happening—that’s what happened to me. That happened to me. I thought I was never going to see my dad again, because of ] these laws. And I cried so hard when my mom told me that at the age of 10.

SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Well, I’m trying to find somebody to get this thing done. It’s, you know, not easy. It’s not going to be an easy path forward. But I’ve made it clear since the day after the election it’s time to get it done.

CARMEN LIMA: So we can count on your vote for immigration reform?

SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: I’m trying to find a way to move the bill forward.

AMY GOODMAN: Immigrants’ rights activists confronting John Boehner at a Washington, D.C., diner. I want to go back in time, comparing this movement to the movement of Cesar Chavez, the legendary labor activist, civil rights leader, founder of the first successful farm workers union, speaking at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco in November of 1984, a few months after he had launched the third and longest grape boycott.

CESAR CHAVEZ: All my life, I have been driven by one dream, one goal, one vision: to overthrow a farm labor system in this nation that treats farm workers as if they were not important human beings. Farm workers are not agricultural implements. They are not beasts of burden to be used and discarded.

AMY GOODMAN: Eliseo Medina, you worked alongside Cesar Chavez. Can you talk about, well, a comparison of movements?

ELISEO MEDINA: Well, let me just say, you know, that Cesar was an organizational genius, an inspiration, a life-changing force for all of us—myself, who used to be a farm worker in California, with an eighth-grade education, no hope for the future, until I met Cesar. And I see that movement that he began as continuing today, because we’re talking about the same things. We’re talking about respect. We’re talking about dignity, about people being appreciated for the work they do and for their contributions.

And what’s different today, perhaps, is that we now have a much broader coalition of conscience that wants to see things done right for working people and for immigrants, and it includes business and labor and the faith community—Mormons, Baptists, Catholics, evangelicals. It includes community groups, environmental groups, Republicans and Democrats. There is a unique consensus on immigration reform that is broader than we ever had in the farm workers movement.

And I think that we are the descendents of Cesar’s vision for this country and for our community. And I think that we’re going to win immigration reform, just like Cesar won many victories in the fields of California. This is the right cause. This is the right time. I think the American people demands it. The Republicans need it for their own political needs. And I think, at the end, it will be good for America, it will be good for immigrants. and we will get it done. It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But, Eliseo, even within the labor movement, there was a long walk on this issue of immigration reform, wasn’t there? The early labor movement, the AFL-CIO, to a certain extent, even the farm workers for a while, saw the immigrant labor as a threat to domestic U.S. labor. Could you talk about that process of first waging the battle within the labor movement to change its position, before now this broader fight among the American people?

ELISEO MEDINA: Well, unfortunately, the early labor movement saw immigrants as competition rather than allies. And for many years they were taking a position to try and restrict immigration, because they saw immigrants as taking the jobs of American workers. Obviously, business didn’t see it that way, because what the business wanted to do is make as much of a profit as they could. And if hiring undocumented workers would help them in doing that, that’s what they did. And it’s ironic because the labor movement was founded by immigrants. For example, our own union in SEIU, we were founded by janitors in Chicago who were immigrants from places like Poland, from Ireland, from the Czech Republic. And we are now, as a labor movement, going back to our roots, to advocating for people who come to this country in search of the American dream.

And it was difficult at first, beginning to shift from what had been basically an isolationist position to one that it says, you know, our job as the labor movement is to unite all workers so that we can all fight together for improving the wages and the benefits of everybody, for our mutual benefit. And so, while it took some time, I’m happy to say that for the last 15 years we’ve all been united. We had the building trades, we have construction unions, we had the industrial unions, all fasting in the tent and all uniting to fight for immigrants’ rights, working together with business. I mean, who would have thunk it? You know, the labor—the Chamber of Commerce and the Change to Win Federation and the AFL-CIO together on anything? But this one issue overcomes all those barriers and divisions, and brings us together, because at the end of the day it will be good for the economy, it will be good for working people, and it will be good for us as a nation of immigrants.

AMY GOODMAN: Eliseo Medina, we want to thank you for being with us. Among those who fasted for a day this week in solidarity with all of the immigrant rights fasters, New Jersey Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin. Eliseo Medina served as the international secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, until October 1st, resigning saying he wanted to work full-time on winning comprehensive immigration legislation. He helped lead the month-long water-only fast as part of the action, “A Fast for Families: A Call for Immigration Reform and Citizenship.”

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we’re going to New Orleans to a Polaroid chemist who helped lead the movement against apartheid when she, together with her husband, realized the company they were working for was making pass books for black South Africans. Stay with us.

The hijacking of Mandela’s legacy

From: sid-l@googlegroups.com
Subject: The hijacking of Mandela’s legacy: he defeated apartheid but was defeated by neoliberalism. That’s the dirty secret of him being allowed sainthood.

http://rt.com/op-edge/mandela-legacy-hijacked-death-903/

RT December 08, 2013 Pepe Escobar

Mandela defeated apartheid but was defeated by neoliberalism. And that’s the dirty secret of him being allowed sainthood.

Beware of strangers bearing gifts. The “gift” is the ongoing, frantic canonization of Nelson Mandela. The “strangers” are the 0.0001 percent, that fraction of the global elite that’s really in control (media naturally included).

It’s a Tower of Babel of tributes piled up in layer upon layer of hypocrisy – from the US to Israel and from France to Britain.

What must absolutely be buried under the tower is that the apartheid regime in South Africa was sponsored and avidly defended by the West until, literally, it was about to crumble under the weight of its own contradictions. The only thing that had really mattered was South Africa’s capitalist economy and immense resources, and the role of Pretoria in fighting “communism.” Apartheid was, at best, a nuisance.

Mandela is being allowed sainthood by the 0.0001% because he extended a hand to the white oppressor who kept him in jail for 27 years. And because he accepted – in the name of “national reconciliation” – that no apartheid killers would be tried, unlike the Nazis.

Among the cataracts of emotional tributes and the crass marketization of the icon, there’s barely a peep in Western corporate media about Mandela’s firm refusal to ditch armed struggle against apartheid (if he had done so, he would not have been jailed for 27 years); his gratitude towards Fidel Castro’s Cuba – which always supported the people of Angola, Namibia and South Africa fighting apartheid; and his perennial support for the liberation struggle in Palestine.

Young generations, especially, must be made aware that during the Cold War, any organization fighting for the freedom of the oppressed in the developing world was dubbed “terrorist”; that was the Cold War version of the “war on terror”. Only at the end of the 20th century was the fight against apartheid accepted as a supreme moral cause; and Mandela, of course, rightfully became the universal face of the cause.

It’s easy to forget that conservative messiah Ronald Reagan – who enthusiastically hailed the precursors of al-Qaeda as “freedom fighters” – fiercely opposed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act because, what else, the African National Congress (ANC) was considered a “terrorist organization” (on top of Washington branding the ANC as “communists”).

The same applied to a then-Republican Congressman from Wyoming who later would turn into a Darth Vader replicant, Dick Cheney. As for Israel, it even offered one of its nuclear weapons to the Afrikaners in Pretoria – presumably to wipe assorted African commies off the map.

In his notorious 1990 visit to the US, now as a free man, Mandela duly praised Fidel, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat and Col. Gaddafi as his “comrades in arms”: “There is no reason whatsoever why we should have any hesitation about hailing their commitment to human rights.” Washington/Wall Street was livid.

And this was Mandela’s take, in early 2003, on the by then inevitable invasion of Iraq and the wider war on terror; “If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America.” No wonder he was kept on the US government terrorist list until as late as 2008.

From terrorism to sainthood

In the early 1960s – when, by the way, the US itself was practicing apartheid in the South – it would be hard to predict to what extent “Madiba” (his clan name), the dandy lawyer and lover of boxing with an authoritarian character streak, would adopt Gandhi’s non-violence strategy to end up forging an exceptional destiny graphically embodying the political will to transform society. Yet the seeds of “Invictus” were already there.

The fascinating complexity of Mandela is that he was essentially a democratic socialist. Certainly not a capitalist. And not a pacifist either; on the contrary, he would accept violence as a means to an end. In his books and countless speeches, he always admitted his flaws. His soul must be smirking now at all the adulation.

Arguably, without Mandela, Barack Obama would never have reached the White House; he admitted on the record that his first political act was at an anti-apartheid demonstration. But let’s make it clear: Mr. Obama, you’re no Nelson Mandela.

To summarize an extremely complex process, in the “death throes” of apartheid, the regime was mired in massive corruption, hardcore military spending and with the townships about to explode. Mix Fidel’s Cuban fighters kicking the butt of South Africans (supported by the US) in Angola and Namibia with the inability to even repay Western loans, and you have a recipe for bankruptcy.

The best and the brightest in the revolutionary struggle – like Mandela – were either in jail, in exile, assassinated (like Steve Biko) or “disappeared”, Latin American death squad-style. The actual freedom struggle was mostly outside South Africa – in Angola, Namibia and the newly liberated Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Once again, make no mistake; without Cuba – as Mandela amply stressed writing from jail in March 1988 – there would be “no liberation of our continent, and my people, from the scourge of apartheid”. Now get one of those 0.0001% to admit it.

In spite of the debacle the regime – supported by the West – sensed an opening. Why not negotiate with a man who had been isolated from the outside world since 1962? No more waves and waves of Third World liberation struggles; Africa was now mired in war, and all sorts of socialist revolutions had been smashed, from Che Guevara killed in Bolivia in 1967 to Allende killed in the 1973 coup in Chile.

Mandela had to catch up with all this and also come to grips with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of what European intellectuals called “real socialism.” And then he would need to try to prevent a civil war and the total economic collapse of South Africa.

The apartheid regime was wily enough to secure control of the Central Bank – with crucial IMF help – and South Africa’s trade policy. Mandela secured only a (very significant) political victory. The ANC only found out it had been conned when it took power. Forget about its socialist idea of nationalizing the mining and banking industries – owned by Western capital, and distribute the benefits to the indigenous population. The West would never allow it. And to make matters worse, the ANC was literally hijacked by a sorry, greedy bunch.

Follow the roadmap
John Pilger is spot on pointing to economic apartheid in South Africa now with a new face.

Patrick Bond has written arguably the best expose anywhere of the Mandela years – and their legacy.

And Ronnie Kasrils does a courageous mea culpa dissecting how Mandela and the ANC accepted a devil’s pact with the usual suspects.

The bottom line: Mandela defeated apartheid but was defeated by neoliberalism. And that’s the dirty secret of him being allowed sainthood.

Now for the future. Cameroonian Achille Mbembe, historian and political science professor, is one of Africa’s foremost intellectuals. In his book Critique of Black Reason, recently published in France (not yet in English), Mbembe praises Mandela and stresses that Africans must imperatively invent new forms of leadership, the essential precondition to lift themselves in the world. All-too-human “Madiba” has provided the roadmap. May Africa unleash one, two, a thousand Mandelas.

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.


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Honoring Mandela, Not Reagan

Honoring Mandela, Not Reagan

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/20848-honoring-mandela-not-reagan

Honoring Mandela, Not Reagan

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

08 December 13

The U.S. government’s relationship with Nelson Mandela was often strained, from the CIA’s hand in his imprisonment to Ronald Reagan’s veto of a sanctions bill aimed at getting him freed, lost history that must now be reconciled, writes Robert Parry.

As Americans honor the memory of Nelson Mandela, they must grapple with the inconvenient truth that one of their most honored recent presidents, Ronald Reagan, fiercely opposed punishing white-ruled South Africa for keeping Mandela locked up and for continuing the racist apartheid system that he challenged.

Rhetorically, Reagan did object to apartheid and did call for Mandela’s release, but Reagan viewed the struggle for racial justice in South Africa through a Cold War lens, leading him to veto a 1986 bill imposing economic sanctions on the Pretoria regime aimed at forcing Mandela’s freedom and compelling the dismantling of apartheid.

In explaining his veto on July 22, 1986, Reagan reserved his harshest criticism for “the Soviet-armed guerrillas of the African National Congress,” a movement that Mandela led. Reagan accused the ANC of having “embarked on new acts of terrorism within South Africa.” He also claimed that “the Soviet Union would be the main beneficiary” of a revolutionary overthrow of the Pretoria regime.

Beyond opposing sanctions that might destabilize the white-supremacist regime, Reagan argued that “the key to the future lies with the South African government.” He called for “not a Western withdrawal but deeper involvement by the Western business community as agents of change and progress and growth.”

Yet, despite Reagan’s speech, Congress enacted the sanctions bill over his veto as “moderate” Republicans, including the likes of Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, rejected Reagan’s go-slow “constructive engagement” with South Africa’s white supremacists. The Senate vote was 78-21, exceeding the necessary two-thirds by a dozen votes.

McConnell’s remarks about the bill reflected the concerns of many Republicans that they would find themselves with Reagan on the wrong side of history. “In the 1960s, when I was in college, civil rights issues were clear,” McConnell said. “After that, it became complicated with questions of quotas and other matters that split people of good will. When the apartheid issue came along, it made civil rights black and white again. It was not complicated.”

To Reagan, however, the issue was extremely complicated. White-ruled South Africa provided military support to right-wing revolutionary movements challenging leftist governments in Africa, such as in Angola where Jonas Savimbi of the CIA-backed UNITA led a brutal insurgency which involved him reportedly burning his opponents at the stake.

Indeed, Reagan supported a number of right-wing insurrectionary movements despite widespread reports of their human rights abuses, including the Contra rebels fighting to overthrow Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government. The Contras not only engaged in rapes, murders and acts of terror but were implicated in cocaine smuggling into the United States.[See Consortiumnews.com’s ” Contra-Cocaine Was a Real Conspiracy.”]

Reagan also backed brutal right-wing regimes in Latin America and elsewhere as they engaged in extermination campaigns against leftists, including in Guatemala where Reagan hailed Gen. Efrain Rios Montt as his regime waged genocide against Mayan Indians considered supportive of leftist guerrillas. [See Consortiumnews.com’s ” Ronald Reagan: Accessory to Genocide.”]

Given Reagan’s support for these anti-leftist pogroms – a policy sometimes dubbed the Reagan Doctrine – he naturally disdained Mandela and the African National Congress, which included communists and drew support from the Soviet Union.

The CIA and Mandela

Mandela had long been a target of Cold Warriors inside the U.S. government, since he was viewed as one of the young militants resisting European colonialism and sympathetic to radical change. The CIA often acted to neutralize these leaders who were considered sympathetic to socialism and potential allies of the Soviet Union.

In the case of Mandela, I’m told that his arrest in 1962, which led to his 27-year imprisonment, resulted from a CIA officer tipping off South African security officials about Mandela’s whereabouts. But there remains a difference of opinion inside the CIA whether its role in Mandela’s capture was intentional or accidental, possibly a careless remark by an intoxicated field agent to his South African counterparts.

At the time of Mandela’s capture, President John F. Kennedy was trying to break out of the Cold War framework of the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, especially regarding CIA hostility toward African nationalists. Kennedy feared that U.S. support for white rule in Africa would play into Soviet hands by alienating the continent’s emerging leaders. [See Consortiumnews.com’s ” JFK Embrace of Third World Nationalists.”]

U.S. policy toward South Africa’s white supremacist government grew more contentious as American attitudes toward race evolved during the civil rights movement of the 1960s and after the 1968 assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, who both strongly sympathized with the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.

President Jimmy Carter further broke from the Cold War mold in the late 1970s when he elevated human rights as a factor in U.S. foreign policy. But those human rights concerns were rolled back after Ronald Reagan ousted Carter in the 1980 election.

Reagan initiated a policy of “constructive engagement” toward South Africa’s white supremacists, meaning that he opposed overt pressure such as economic sanctions in favor of quiet diplomacy that sought gradual reform of the apartheid system.

In reality, Reagan’s approach allowed white South African leader P.W. Botha to crack down on the ANC and other revolutionary movements which Reagan viewed as pro-communist. Instead of substantive moves toward full citizenship for blacks, the Pretoria regime instituted largely cosmetic reforms to its apartheid system.

It was not until the U.S. and global economic sanctions took hold – combined with the world’s ostracism of the white racist regime – that Botha gave way to F.W. de Klerk, who, in turn, cleared the path for Mandela’s release in 1990. De Klerk then negotiated with Mandela to transform South Africa into a multiracial democracy, with Mandela becoming its first president in 1994.

Now, as the world honors the life of Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95, the American people must reconcile his inspirational story with how their much-honored Ronald Reagan opposed the sanctions that finally brought freedom to Mandela and to his nation.

Given Reagan’s support for the ghastly slaughters in Central America and elsewhere, some Americans might reasonably wonder why his name is attached to so many public facilities, including Washington’s National Airport.

While it may be unrealistic to expect this Congress to reconsider the many honors heaped on Ronald Reagan, individual Americans may want to – at least unofficially – delete his name from the airport that serves the nation’s capital by referring to it again as Washington National.


You are currently on Mha Atma’s Earth Action Network email list, option D (occasional emails and up to 3 emails/day). To be removed, or to switch options (option A – 1x/week, option B – 3/wk, option C – up to 1x/day, option D – up to 3x/day) please reply and let us know! If someone forwarded you this email and you want to be on our list, send an email to earthactionnetwork@earthlink.net and tell us which option you’d like. For more info on Earth Action Network go to www.earthactionnetwork.org and for more info about Mha Atma see www.drmhaatma.com.

“War’s never a winning thing, Charlie. You just lose all the time, and the one who loses last asks for terms. All I remember is a lot of losing and sadness and nothing good at the end of it. The end of it, Charles, that was a winning all to itself, having nothing to do with guns.”

–Ray Bradbury, from the short story “The Time Machine” 1957

“Amandla! A Revolution in four part harmony.”

Ed, I’ve not seen the film yet. I only know that it’s a documentary about the music of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Just as music played an important role in the civil rights movement here, apparently so did it in the struggle for freedom over there,

The film is called “Amandla! A Revolution in four part harmony.”

Here’s a link to the reviews it has received.

http://www.amazon.com/Amandla-A-Revolution-Four-Part-Harmony/product-reviews/B0000C2IWO/ref=dp_db_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

(From November 30) The film will be shown Sunday morning at 5:45 AM on one of the channels on the Starz network. (Channel 578 on Time Warner cable.) I think many of the people on your mailing list will be interested in seeing it. I’ve already set my DVR to record it.

Mike

Reminder! Celebrate the Art of Resistance with the Center for Political Graphics, Sunday October 20!

** The Center for the Study of Political Graphics is excited to invite you to Celebrate the Art of Resistance at our 2013 Party Auction

– Please join us as we recognize these outstanding honorees: Activists/artists Cheri Gaulke and Sue Maberry will receive the Art is a Hammer Award.

Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it. -Vladimir Mayakovsky

Acclaimed teen poetry troupe Get Lit Players and their founder Diane Luby Lane will receive the Historian of the Lions Award.

Until the lions have their historians, tales of hunting will always glorify the hunter. -African Proverb

Activist Attorneys Sonia Mercado and Sam Paz will receive the Culture of Liberation Award.

Culture contains the seed of opposition becoming the flower of liberation. -Amílcar Cabral

Sunday, October 20, 3PM 3pm: Reception and Silent Auction

4:30pm: Awards Program and performance by the Get Lit Players
Professional Musicians Union Local 47 817 Vine Street Hollywood, LA 90038

There will be an elegant reception, a dynamic poster presentation, and a unique auction of vintage posters and original artworks. The formal program will begin at 4:30 pm and will include award presentations and a performance by the Get Lit Players.

Cheri Gaulke and Sue Maberry met at the Woman’s Building, a feminist art center, in 1976. Their work combines art, activism and education. In 1981, they co-founded the anti-nuclear performance group Sisters Of Survival. Cheri is Head of Visual Arts at Harvard-Westlake School and Sue is Director of the Library at Otis College of Art and Design.

Get Lit Players, founded by Diane Luby Lane, is an award-winning classic and spoken word teen poetry troupe comprised of teenagers from throughout Los Angeles County. The Get Lit Players perform for over 10,000 of their peers each year, inspiring them to read, write and participate in the arts and be leaders in their communities.

Diane’s literacy and poetry system is being taught at over 40 schools throughout Southern California and expanding.

Sonia Mercado and Sam Paz are activist civil rights attorneys with a long and successful history challenging police misconduct and supporting the constitutional rights of prisoners. Their work supporting the rights of the incarcerated to medical care, to be free from violence and brutality and to end illegal police spying against community and political organizations have led to important reforms.

http://us7.campaign-archive1.com/?u=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&id=3d5430bc7e&e=4f9ed2a7d1 The Daily Digest Celebrate the Art of Resistance with the Center for Political Graphics, Sunday October 20! Is this email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser (http://us7.campaign-archive1.com/?u=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&id=ba30f99b1c&e=5617d3d307) . http://edpearl-ashgrove.us7.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&id=f319abc595&e=5617d3d307

The Ash Grove: David McReynolds: Quick take on Obama’s speech

Ed’s Daily Digest
David McReynolds: Quick take on Obama’s speech

From: David McReynolds [mailto:davidmcreynolds7@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 7:02 PM

Quick take on Obama’s speech. To, among others, the Edgeleft list.

A weak speech. The theory that we have reached this point (of the Syrian willingness to give up their chemical weapons) because of Obama’s threat of a military attack is questionable – the fact is Obama simply didn’t have the support he needed in Congress. We emerge with a badly weakened Presidency. Ironically it is the Russians who score points, since they broke the deadlock (for whatever reason).

None of us (I hope) support the use of poison gas, but I am weary of Obama and Kerry hammering this point and ignoring the US silence (and perhaps complicity) in the case of Saddam Hussein’s use of poison gas against the Kurds and then against the Iranians. Once again, we see is the traditional “double standard” of every major state – we pick and choose what we will be upset about. One is reminded of Orwell and 1984. (Leaving aside the significant issue of chemical war in Vietnam with Agent Orange, and depleted uranium in Iraq).

I am sick to hear Obama talk about American exceptionalism, of being the anchor of world stability. This, from a President who surely knows his history, and who knows that it was the United States which laid waste to Vietnam, laid the basis for the rise of Pol Pot, invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, in the process simply destroying Iraq and leaving it in ruins. (One could list other items, from the invasion of Panama and Grenada, but it is Vietnam and Iraq which loom like ghastly corpses from the recent history of American actions).

Disturbing to hear a President who understands world law talk about the need for the US to act unilaterally. This is in direct violation of international law which, under the Charter of the United Nations, which we signed, states there are only two occasions when a nation can resort to violence. One is when its national security is directly threatened, and the other is when the Security Council authorizes such action. Obama’s proposed actions would be criminal under international law.

There are technical problems with the US approach – on the one hand the outrage about the use of poison gas, and on the other hand the promise by John Kerry that any US military attack would be “unbelievably tiny”. This is the worst of all possible worlds – to stir a hornets nest and hope for the best.

How can the US think of a military strike at an already bloodied Syria without realizing that such violence only adds to the violence, and cannot diminish it. What the Pope recently said on the Syrian issue makes much more moral sense than anything Obama said tonight.

What Obama did not say – and what he could have said (and might yet say if there was enough political pressure) – is that a political solution will require a serious agreement among the Americans, the Saudis, Turkey, and Russia, to have a genuine blockade on any further arms shipments.

Press for an international conference. Press for aid to the refugees. Press for a total blockade on the flow of arms (and the most difficult nation to deal with here might well be Saudi Arabia, not Russia).

I felt sorry for Obama – he had dug himself the hole into which he stumbled tonight by talking of red lines and suggesting that Assad must go. One can deplore the Assad regime (and most of the rebel opposition as well) without feeling it is helpful, as a pre-condition to negotiations, to argue that the leader of one side must leave the room.

Whoever used the poison gas – and I don’t find this as solidly proven as Obama does – what horrifies me more than the thousand dead from its use, are the 100,000 dead thus far in the Civil War (it is estimated that half of those killed have been Syrian government forces, and about a fourth had been civilians).

A weak speech from a President who faces a hostile Congress and will now find it much harder to achieve progress on more urgent domestic issues. (Though you would not guess almost any of this from listening to the commentariat on MSNBC and CNN).

David McReynolds

Daily Digest: William Boardman: Jumping the Shark Over Syria

———————————————————— http://us7.campaign-archive1.com/?u=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&id=9109cdfaf9&e=4f9ed2a7d1 Ed’s Daily Digest William Boardman: Jumping the Shark Over Syria http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/289-134/19142-jumping-the-shark-over-syria ** Jumping the Shark Over Syria ———————————————————— By William Boardman, Reader Supported News 29 August 13 President Obama is apparently wobbling on the edge of committing an impeachable offense, specifically a military attack on Syria without the authorization of Congress, without the approval of the United Nations Security Council, and without any imminent threat to the United States. The president finds himself pressured on one side by his own rookie mistake on August 20, 2012, when he said at a press conference, in answer to a question about the civil war in Syria, “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.” To judge from the wording of his answer, the president seems to have been trying to not box himself in. He not only failed then, he has failed since to roll back political and media baiting over his supposed “red line,” giving it more symbolic authority each time. Now he’s caught in his own trap. After several real or apparent earlier uses of some chemical weapons by somebody in Syria, the most recent alleged chemical weapons attack has some Washington officials reacting hysterically on the basis of limited uncertain information that, they argue, is sufficient basis for the United States to launch a limited but certain military attack on somebody. Gas Over Syria Mostly Smoke Blown by Politicians With Hidden Agendas With his secretary of state ranting in high-pitched tones about this “moral obscenity” and that “cowardly crime” committed by the Assad regime, the president seems weak and vacillating. The lawyer who is president might remind the lawyer who is secretary of state that evidence usually precedes judgment, not only in court but also in the process of mature statecraft. Carrying on as if he thought he was the real president, Secretary of State John Kerry blathers with a fatuous pomposity worthy of a caricature head of state, as he jingoes up a war with demagoguery about the would-be enemy: “Our sense of basic humanity is offended, not only by this cowardly crime but also by the cynical attempt to cover it up. What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality. The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons, is a moral obscenity. By any standards, it is inexcusable, and despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable.” The irony is overwhelming: Kerry has accurately described the American use of depleted Uranium weapons that continue to kill men, women, and children every day in Iraq. Depleted Uranium is a chemical, a deadly toxic heavy metal with the added benefit of also being radioactive for billions of years. The chemical weapon apparently used in Syria kills quickly, and using it is a widely-recognized war crime. Not so widely recognized, but just as much a war crime, using DU WMDs not only kills some victims quickly, but goes on killing others slowly, for generations. Why Is Washington So Hot for War Before the Facts Are Known? Kerry was once perceived as a moral man, protesting another immoral American war, in Vietnam. But that was a long time ago. Although he opposed the 1991 Gulf War, he raised no outcry against the criminal use of DU WMDs that mercilessly slaughtered Iraqis and infected the country with toxic air, water, and dust. By 2003, Kerry swallowed whole the lies that supported the Bush administration’s lust for war in Iraq. Kerry’s rhetoric then was like his rhetoric now: “Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator; leading an oppressive regime he presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real.” He was fatally wrong then. Just as wrong in 2003 was Senator John McCain, another enthusiastic booster of the Bush administration’s lying the country into war. Now the Arizona Republican is not only eager for America to take unilateral military action, he’s busy blaming the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, for not being an equally avid warmonger. The Senator Takes Offense at a General’s Prudence McCain is mad at Gen. Dempsey for his answer to an inquiry from New York congressman Eliot Engel, a Democrat, who wondered what might be the best course to pursue in Syria. The general’s rational and careful response on August 19 said, in part: We can destroy the Syrian Air Force. The loss of Assad’s Air Force would negate his ability to attack opposition forces from the air, but it would also escalate and potentially further commit the United States to the conflict. Stated another way, it would not be militarily decisive, but it would commit us decisively to the conflict. In a variety of ways, the use of US military force can change the military balance, but it cannot resolve the underlying and historic ethnic, religious, and tribal issues that are fueling this conflict. Syria today is not about choosing between two sides but rather about choosing one among many sides. It is my belief that the side we choose must be ready to promote their interests and ours when the balance shifts in their favor. Today, they are not…. I believe we can assist in the humanitarian crisis on a far more significant scale. We could, if asked to do so, significantly increase our effort to develop a moderate opposition. Doing so, in combination with expanded capacity-building efforts with regional partners and a significant investment in the development of a moderate Syrian opposition, represents the best framework for an effective U.S. strategy toward Syria going forward. Outraged by this almost non-military posture, McCain claimed that it was Gen. Dempsey’s fault that Syria used chemical weapons. According to McCain, “General Dempsey has to be embarrassed,” because his letter opened the door to chemical weapons: Dempsey made an incredible illogical statement and then a few days later we saw a massive use of chemical weapons. I’m sure that Bashar al-Assad paid attention to the top military man in America’s words that we were not going to get involved…. I would expect Assad to continue to use these weapons. And other Assads around the world will now not hesitate to use these weapons and sooner or later they may be used against Americans. Senator McCain Embraces the Fallacy of post hoc ergo propeter hoc So McCain is also blaming the general for future war crimes committed by others, using his own illogical argument. McCain argues that the letter that preceded the use of chemical weapons therefore caused the use of chemical weapons – an elementary logical fallacy. But it’s also obviously nonsense, since chemical weapons were used in Syria before the letter as well. And McCain has yet to object to his country’s 20 years of using depleted Uranium weapons on mostly defenseless targets. Not to be left off the public hysteria bandwagon, Vice President Joe Biden, who offered no more evidentiary support for his claims than any of the other manly blitherers, told a Texas audience: There is no doubt who was responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons in Syria – the Syrian regime – for we know that the Syrian regime are the only ones who have the weapons, have used chemical weapons multiple times in the past, have the means of delivering those weapons, have been determined to wipe out exactly the places that were attacked by chemical weapons. Little of the Biden riff is demonstrably true, but then he added an outright lie about the Syrian government, accusing it of not cooperating with UN inspectors: “… the government has repeatedly shelled the sites of the attack and blocked the investigation for five days.” The truth is that the UN delivered its inspection request on Saturday, August 24. The Syrian government approved the request on Sunday. The inspection team went to work on Monday. “Those who use chemical weapons against defenseless men, women and children should and must be held accountable,” Biden told his Houston audience, without mentioning American use of DU WMDs. At the United Nations, Calmer, More Rational Heads Prevail At the United Nations, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon maintained a more diplomatic composure. In a statement about the UN investigation headed by Under-Secretary General Angela Kane, he said: The Secretary-General now calls for the mission, presently in Damascus, to be granted permission and access to swiftly investigate the incident which occurred on the morning of 21 August. A formal request is being sent by the United Nations to the Government of Syria in this regard. He expects to receive a positive response without delay. In a second statement, regarding the use of chemical weapons as a violation of international humanitarian law, the secretary general concluded: “The Secretary-General reiterates that any use of chemical weapons by any side under any circumstances would violate international humanitarian law.” ———————————————————— William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. ============================================================ Copyright © 2013 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. 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Daily Digest: Jeff Cohen: My Surprisingly Inspiring Trip to the West Bank

From: Jeff Cohen [mailto:jeffco@hvc.rr.com] Subject: I just returned from West Bank & Israel. (http://www.commondreams.org/jeff-cohen) http://www.commondreams.org/sites/commondreams.org/files/imce-images/west_bank.jpg Protesters in Nabi Saleh march toward the water spring now used by Israeli settlers. (Photo courtesy of the author via Nabi Saleh Solidarity) As I prepared for a grueling fact-finding trip to Israel and the Palestinian West Bank (occupied for 46 years), Secretary of State Kerry announced that Israel and the Palestinian Authority had agreed to resume peace talks without preconditions.

On the day my delegation (http://ifpb.org/del47/default.html) flew to the region, Israel announced that it had approved still more housing for Israeli settlers: “Israel has issued tenders for the construction of nearly 1,200 housing units in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank,” reported (http://mondoweiss.net/2013/08/nyt-calls-new-jerusalem-settlements-housing-bids.html) London’s Financial Times, “defying U.S. and Palestinian opposition to expansion of Jewish settlements three days before the scheduled start of peace talks.” It’s the same old depressing story, with Israel showing little interest in making peace. So before I turn to what’s surprising and inspiring in the West Bank, let’s acknowledge the bad news: Palestinians are slowly being squeezed out of their homes, deprived of their water and centuries-old olive groves, humiliated on a daily basis by Israeli settlers and the Israeli state in a relentless violation of their human rights that gets worse as much of the world looks away. But here’s the good news: Across the West Bank, Israel’s occupation has given rise in recent years to a nonviolent “popular resistance” movement that should be an inspiration to people across the globe. This unarmed resistance has persisted in the face of Israeli state violence (aided by U.S.-supplied weapons and tear gas), lengthy jail sentences for nonviolent protesters and widespread detention and abuse of children (http://www.dci-palestine.org/) .

It was fitting to return to the U.S. on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington because Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy of militant nonviolence were invoked by Palestinian activists in virtually every village and town I visited as part of the fact-finding delegation. Like King, leaders of the Palestinian popular resistance – from intellectuals to grassroots villagers who’d been repeatedly jailed – spoke to us about universal human rights, about a human family in which all deserve equal rights regardless of religion or nationality.

“We are against the occupation, not against the Jews,” was the refrain among Palestinian activists. “We have many Jews and Israelis who support us.” It was indeed inspiring to meet several of the brave Israelis (http://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/) who’ve supported the nonviolent resistance, often putting themselves in the frontline of marches (their jail sentences are tiny compared to what’s dished out to Palestinians). They are admittedly a small minority, thoroughly ostracized within Israel – a society that seems as paranoid and militaristic today as our country during the McCarthyite Fifties. * * *

NABI SALEH: In this village near Ramallah that’s being squeezed by settlers, a leader of the local popular resistance (http://nabisalehsolidarity.wordpress.com/) waxed poetic about Israelis who’ve supported their struggle: “After we started the popular resistance in 2009, we saw a different kind of Israeli, our partner. We see them as our cousin – a different view than the Israeli as soldier shooting at us, or the settler stealing, or the jailer shutting the cell on us.” The story of Nabi Saleh was compellingly told in an atypical New York Times Magazine article by Ben Ehrenreich, “Is This Where the Third Intifada Will Start? (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/magazine/is-this-where-the-third-intifada-will-start.html?pagewanted=all) ” “It’s not easy to be nonviolent, but no soldier has been killed by a stone,” said activist leader Manal Tamimi. “We want to show the world we are not terrorists. On CNN, Fox News, we’re just terrorists, suicide bombers. I was in the states; you never hear of settlers attacking Palestinians.” As we were leaving her house, Manal added: “You need to be our messengers because your tax money is killing us. You are our brothers in humanity, but you are part of the killing.”

Like our 1964 civil rights martyrs in Mississippi – Schwerner, Cheney and Goodman – Nabi Saleh reveres its martyrs: Mustafa Tamimi (http://972mag.com/mustafa-tamimi-a-murder-captured-on-camera/29459/) and Rushdi Tamimi (http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Palestinian-dies-after-being-shot-during-protest) . * * * BIL’IN: If you saw the Oscar-nominated documentary “5 Broken Cameras (http://www.kinolorber.com/5brokencameras/) ,” then you know of the seven-year-long, partly-successful battle by the villagers of Bil’in to drive back Israel’s “separation wall” (aka the Apartheid Wall) – which was positioned to confiscate nearly 60 percent of their land, separating farmers from their fields and olive trees. It’s an inspiring story (http://www.bilin-village.org/english/) of courageous nonviolence, with international activists (and Israelis) flocking to Bil’in to support the villagers’ resistance. “Internationals” who live in the West Bank and put their bodies on the line in support of nonviolent Palestinian struggles remind me of the U.S. students and others who “headed south” in the 1960s to support the civil rights movement. We stayed overnight in the homes of Bil’in residents. Iyad Burnat, the brother of “5 Broken Cameras” director Emad Burnat, talked with us past midnight about the importance of media coverage, international support, and creative, surprise tactics in a successful nonviolent movement (like using their bodies to close an Israeli “settlers-only” road). “In Bil’in we don’t use stones. The Israeli soldiers use that – kids throwing stones – to attack our people.”

Iyad was one of a dozen Palestinians we met who bristled at their lack of mobility now that their communities are ringed by the wall, settlements, checkpoints and Israeli-only highways. “It’s easier for me to get to the U.S. or the U.K. than to Jerusalem, 25 kilometers away.” Like our Selma martyrs – Jimmy Lee Jackson, Rev. James Reeb and Viola Liuzzo – Bil’in has its nonviolent martyrs: Bassem Ibrahim Abu Rahmah (http://mondoweiss.net/2009/04/30yearold-palestinian-resident-of-bilin-killed-in-weekly-nonviolent-protest-against-the-wall.html) and Jawaher Abu Rahmah (http://electronicintifada.net/content/bilin-tel-aviv-outrage-killing-jawaher-abu-rahmah/9164) . * * *

EAST JERUSALEM: One of the most powerful and educational movies on Israel/Palestine is the 25-minute documentary, “My Neighborhood (http://www.justvision.org/myneighbourhood/watch) ” – which exposes the Judaization of East Jerusalem (http://www.icahd.org/tours/east-jerusalem) by focusing on a Palestinian family facing eviction from their home of 47 years in the middle-class neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. We sat down with the “stars” of the movie, the al-Kurd family, outside the part of the house they still can live in. Absurdly, zealous and aggressive Jewish settlers occupy the front part of the house. As we approached, I caught a glimpse of the settlers behind their Israeli flag. (Watch the movie here (http://www.justvision.org/myneighbourhood/watch) .) Middle-aged mom Maysa al-Kurd and her 94-year-old mother told us they’ve lived in their East Jerusalem house since 1956, having been forced to flee Haifa during the 1948 “War of Independence.” Settlers are now using intimidation in hope of forcing them to flee again. With half a home, the al-Kurd family is luckier than dozens of others in Sheikh Jarrah who’ve been driven out of the neighborhood completely. (Many Palestinians are refugees two or three times over.) With the help of Israeli and international activists, the al-Kurd family has fought for years to live in peace and dignity in what’s left of their house. If you watch “My Neighborhood,” you’ll see grandson Mohammed, then in the 7th-grade, announcing that he wants to be a lawyer or journalist battling for human rights when he grows up. Two years later, he holds to that dream. Maysa al-Kurd asked us to tell her family’s story to President Obama – and, if we can’t reach him, to tell their story in social media. She wants to ask Obama “if it would be acceptable to him if his own kids were harassed in their home; if not acceptable for his kids, then he shouldn’t be silent” when Palestinian children are suffering.

HEBRON HILLS: Near the end of our tour of the West Bank, we visited the beleaguered but unbowed village of Al Tuwani in the South Hebron hills, where expansion-minded (“God gave us this land”) Israelis in nearby settlements have terrorized the village and sabotaged their fields and water. For “lack of a building permit,” Israeli soldiers demolished their village school and mosque. It struck me that being Palestinian in some of these remote locations was akin to being black in rural Mississippi in the 1950s, facing continuous intimidation from lawless Klansmen (like these armed and sometimes-masked settlers) backed up by state power. But Al Tuwani has resisted – with women taking new roles in the economic sustenance of the village, with young Italian solidarity activists (Operation Dove (http://www.operationdove.org/) ) accompanying the men into the field as a “ protective presence” and videotaping any confrontations, and with Israeli human rights lawyers defending their right to rebuild their community. A woman leader in the village, like so many Palestinians, begged us to return home to contest media portrayals of Palestinians as terrorists: “You’ve seen the true Palestine, not what you see in news media . . . Tell the world the truth.”

* * * While it was inspiring to see nonviolent “popular resistance” groups persisting across the West Bank, I felt ashamed and angry as a Jew to hear Palestinians document the relentless drive by the “Jewish State” to Judaize East Jerusalem and intimidate and humiliate West Bankers into leaving their cities, towns and villages. Everywhere we went, we heard complaints about day-to-day hardship — checkpoints, Jewish-only highways, blocked Palestinian roads and how drives to work or school or neighbors that once took 15 minutes now take several hours. Seeing these “facts on the ground,” I kept asking myself NOT “Why have many Palestinians turned to violence and terrorism?” – but rather, “Why so few?”

I’m not the first or only one to think that thought. In a moment of candor in 1998, hawkish Israeli politician Ehud Barak admitted to Haaretz reporter Gideon Levy: “If I were a young Palestinian of the right age, I’d eventually join one of the terrorist organizations.” (Barak wasn’t punished for his candor – Israelis elected him prime minister a year later.) As hard as we tried, it was difficult to find a single Palestinian (or Israeli peace and justice activist) with much hope for the Kerry-led peace process; they fear that talks will again be a pretext for continued Israeli expansion into Palestinian land. We were repeatedly reminded that at the beginning of the Oslo “peace process” in 1993, there were about 260,000 Israeli settlers living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – and that number increased to 365,000 by the time Oslo fell apart seven years later.

Today, there are well over 525,000 settlers (http://www.fmep.org/settlement_info/settlement-info-and-tables/stats-data/comprehensive-settlement-population-1972-2006) . Everywhere you travel in the West Bank, you can see Palestinian villages on hillsides or in valleys – and newer, gleaming Israeli settlements on the hilltops above, startlingly green thanks to abundant, diverted water. During the Oslo talks, then-Israeli foreign minister Ariel Sharon was quoted as telling a rightwing party to “run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements.” Many in the nonviolent Palestinian resistance also have little faith in the Palestinian Authority – seen variously as weak, corrupt, “an Authority with no authority,” and a junior partner in administering the occupation.

“We want a third Intifada, the Palestinian Authority wants to prevent it,” an activist told us. Their faith is in spreading the grassroots resistance within Palestine, and gaining international support. We were told over and over: Without outside pressure on Israel, there will be no end to the occupation and no justice. Which is why every Palestinian nonviolent activist urged us to support the boycott of Israel aimed at ending the occupation (http://www.bdsmovement.net/) – and they emphasized that boycotting is a supremely nonviolent tactic. All drew parallels to the successful, international boycott that forced South Africa’s apartheid regime to the bargaining table. And some mentioned another success – the boycott of Montgomery buses led by Martin Luther King. Jeff Cohen (http://jeffcohen.org/) is an associate professor of journalism and the director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, founder of the media watch group FAIR (http://www.fair.org/index.php) . . . He is the author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media (http://www.amazon.com/dp/097606216X?tag=commondreams-20/ref=nosim) – and a cofounder of the online action group, www.RootsAction.org (http://www.rootsaction.org/) . =

Sunday’s event and ‘The Musical Legacy of the Great March’ This Saturday

Sunday’s event and The Musical Legacy of the Great March’ This Saturday

Hi. As the holiday weekend and war approach and occupy the mind, I take a time out to report that Shakespeare’s “All’s well that ends well” applies to the Ash Grove Picnic of last Sunday, and should, to tomorrow’s musical event in Pasadena.

First, the picnic: Great music from one person after another in a large circle of diverse folks, often from surprising sources. Everyone participated, became friends, drifted off to eat, greet and talk; then returned. Newcomers arrived, even towards the 6pm closing. The sentiments of the letter just below were expressed by everyone I spoke to, heard from on the phone, etc. I found out the next day that people actually continued until midnight, inside the house. Our hosts, Jan Goodman and Jerry Manpearl loved it and have asked that we make it an annual event. I promise to have it together and send you far fewer emails, next year. I won’t have to.

Ross Altman, the featured performer of tomorrow’s event was there, shared and I’m sure will draw many folks still in town to Pasadena. Me, too.

Ed