Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel
Articles Archives - August 2010
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Israel, Big Money and Obama
Margaret Kimberley, CounterPunch 8/20/2010
“Barack Obama has established a strong record as a true friend of Israel, a stalwart defender of Israel’s security, and an effective advocate of strengthening the steadfast U.S.-Israel relationship, publicly stating that Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state should never be challenged.” – Lester Crown
Lester Crown is a Chicagoan with a net worth of four billion dollars. He owns a large stake in and is a former president and board chairman of defense contractor General Dynamics. He also has held large holdings in Hilton Hotels, Maytag (now Whirlpool), and the Chicago Bulls and New York Yankees.
Crown was an early supporter of Barack Obama’s candidacy first for the U.S. Senate, and then for president. He is one of the first and one of his most prodigious fundraisers. As the Obama presidential campaign website says, the candidate “… systematically built a sophisticated, and in many ways quite conventional, money machine.” The Crowns were an integral part of that machinery. One of Lester Crown’s children, James Crown, personally bundled $500,000 in campaign contributions for Obama and served as chairman of the Illinois fund raising effort. Lester Crown and his wife Renee hosted a fundraiser for Obama in 2007 at their home. The event invitation made it clear; their support for Obama was due to his support of Israel, its “right to exist“ and his willingness to strike militarily against Iran.
Every American president has wealthy individuals and families dedicated to getting them elected. The reliance of candidates for public office on the largesse of the rich may be common and expected, but it is nonetheless extremely dangerous. This corruption insures access for the rich, which guarantees that their interests are at the top of any president’s agenda, usually at the expense of what is good for everyone else. more.. e-mail
Police threaten freedom of expression
Palestinian National Initiative (PNI, Ma’an News Agency 8/26/2010
We have followed with great concern the increasing external pressure, especially from the US and Israel, on the Palestinian Authority leadership to shift from indirect negotiations which have not resulted in any progress to direct negotiations without clear and binding terms of reference regarding a complete halt of all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory - including in Jerusalem.
A conference in Ramallah took place in order to announce the firm stand against engaging in any type of negotiation with Israel. A number of political parties such as the Palestinian National Initiative, Popular and Democratic Front, the People’s Party and independent figures, including businessmen Munib Al-Masri, Mamdouh Al-Aker, Hani Al-Masri and several others.
However, the conference was abruptly ended as it was stormed. The PNI stated that the actions that took place during the conference, such as turning off the electricity and the assault on participants ultimately threaten the freedom of expression, opinion and any attempt at promoting democracy.
The party demanded that the PA condemn the actions and bring those responsible to justice as it does not serve the public interest. Actions like these only increase the division between Palestinians at a time when we are in great need of national unity.
PNI Secretary-General Mustafa Barghouthi condemned the use of violence against the conference and its participants. The actions of certain people including the actions of some elements of security structures represent a threat to freedom of expression, human rights and democracy. more.. e-mail
The Power of Storytelling
Wajahat Ali, CounterPunch 8/20/2010
Creating a New Future for American Muslims
In 7th-century Arabia, the storyteller was valued more than the swordsman. The audience sat on the floor surrounding the gifted orator as he captivated the eager listeners with beautiful poetry narrating their history. In the 21st century, the art form may have evolved to include motion pictures, TV shows, theater productions, novels, and standup comedy, but they all serve the same function: storytelling.
Ideas and principles are most effectively communicated and transmitted when they are couched in a narrative. Stories, whether they concern the etiquette and biography of prophets or the trials and tribulations of America’s founding fathers, inform and influence a cultural citizenry of its values and identity.
Stories of the Prophet Muhammad most effectively communicate the Quran’s eloquent exhortation to tolerate and embrace diversity: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise [each other])” (49:13). The Prophet’s cordial diplomacy and communication with the Christian, Abyssinian King yielded one of the first alliances of the young Muslim community. Furthermore, the Prophet displayed unconditional love for his diverse companions, who comprised the gamut of Arab society including former slaves, orphans, widows, wealthy dignitaries, and non-Arabs.
Similarly, the story of a biracial man with an Arabic name and a Kenyan father elected to the highest office in the land reminds the world that indeed America can live up to its cherished principles of freedom and racial equality, and her citizens are capable of reflecting a magnanimous and egalitarian spirit bereft of prejudice. more.. e-mail
Why Americans should oppose Zionism
Electronic Intifada: 26 Aug 2010 - More and more people are starting to pay attention to Israel's crimes and indignities. In so doing, more and more people are questioning the origin and meaning of Zionism -- that is, the very idea of a legally ethnocentric Israel. Steven Salaita comments.more
Veolia whitewashes illegal light rail project
Electronic Intifada: 26 Aug 2010 - Last week the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the consortium holding the contract to the controversial Jerusalem light rail project surveyed city residents on whether they would feel comfortable sharing rail service with Palestinians. The bad publicity around the survey -- described as racist by even members of the Israeli government -- is an ironic turn of events. Adri Nieuwhof reports for The Electronic Intifada.more
PA forces raid meeting as dissent grows
Electronic Intifada: 25 Aug 2010 - Palestinian Authority forces today forcibly dispersed a meeting organized by Palestinian parties opposed to the Palestine Liberation Organization's scheduled direct talks with Israel. The meeting was held at the same time as a conference in Gaza City, where officials of various Palestinian parties also discussed their opposition to the PLO's plans for direct talks.more
Math program taps potential of young students in Gaza
Electronic Intifada: 25 Aug 2010 - AL-ZAHARA, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) - In a bright and spacious classroom, with plants overflowing in the courtyard outside, six students lean forward at their desks looking at the 10-digit addition they are asked to make. One student stands before the numbers on the chalkboard and a red and yellow-beaded abacus. But her attention is on the abacus she visualizes in her mind.more
Church boycott calls ring louder
Electronic Intifada: 25 Aug 2010 - The world's churches have long been one of the battlegrounds of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. With the strengthening of the BDS movement, a number of churches across the globe have seen the boycott of Israeli and Israeli settlement goods hotting up, and recent weeks have witnessed some notable victories.more
Palestine’s students excel in new maths program
In Gaza: 24 Aug 2010 - AL ZAHARA, Central Gaza Strip, Aug 24, 2010 (IPS) – In a bright and spacious classroom, with plants overflowing in the courtyard outside, six students lean forward at their desks looking at the 10-digit addition they are asked to make. One student stands before the numbers on the chalkboard and a red and yellow-beaded abacus. But her attention is on the abacus she visualises in her mind. The Al Zahara private school in central Gaza is the first to incorporate a specialised programme for mental development based on math computations . “It originated in Malaysia in 1993,” says Majed al-Bari, director of the school and the first to bring the programme to Palestine. “The Universal Concept Mental Arithmetic System (UCMAS) was developed to use both sides of the brain,” says Bari. “The analytical left side and the creative right side.” Using a simple abacus, the UCMAS programme combines visual with textile,...more
The Stink of Control
Palestine Monitor: 26 Aug 2010 - Sewage thickens the waters of the once pristine Zomar river in northwestern West Bank. With no nearby treatment plants, sludge like this coats the lands, poisoning wells and aquifers, polluting fields and infecting children. “There is no real life there - it is just waste water,” said Iyad Aburdeieneh, Palestinian Deputy Director of Friends of the Earth Middle East. Called The Alexander in Israel, the rancid Zomar is not unique in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Twenty-five million cubic meters of untreated sewage - or five Zomar rivers - leak into the West Bank's environment every year, according to the World Bank. Wadi Nar in the Kidron Valley. Photo by Bethlehem University, Water and Soil Environmental Research Unit Israel has allowed the Palestinians to build only one waste water treatment facility in the West Bank - and let others deteriorate. “To even dig and line a septic tank, you need...more
Refusal to engage in direct negotiations without a clear settlement freeze
Palestine Monitor: 25 Aug 2010 - We have followed with great concern the increasing external pressure, especially from the U.S. and Israel, on the P.A. leadership to shift from indirect negotiations which have not resulted in any progress to direct negotiations without clear and binding terms of reference regarding a complete halt of all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory - including in Jerusalem. A conference in Ramallah took place in order to announce the firm stand against engaging in any type of negotiation with Israel. A number of political parties such as the Palestinian National Initiative, Popular and Democratic Front, the People's Party and independent figures, including businessman Munib al-Masri, Dr. Mamdouh Al-Aker, Hani Al-Masri and several others. However, the conference was abruptly ended as it was stormed. The PNI stated that the actions that took place during the conference, such as turning off the electricity and the assault on participants ultimately threatens the...more
Palestine Chronicle: 26 Aug 2010 - By Ramzy Baroud The soldiers of the US 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division hollered as they made their way into Kuwait. 'We won,' they claimed. 'It’s over.' But what exactly did they win? And is the war really over? It seems we are once again walking into the same trap, the same nonsensical assumptions of wars won, missions accomplished, troops withdrawn, and jolly soldiers carrying cardboard signs of heart-warming messages like "Lindsay & Austin ... Dad’s coming home." While much of the media is focused on the logistics of the misleading withdrawal of the "last combat brigade" from Iraq on August 19 - some accentuating the fact that the withdrawal is happening two weeks ahead of the August 31 deadline - most of us are guilty of forgetting Iraq and its people. When the economy began to take center stage, we completely dropped the war off our list of grievances....more
Declassified Documents Expose Lobby Influence
Palestine Chronicle: 26 Aug 2010 - By Stephen Lendman James Petras' powerful 2006 book titled, 'The Power of Israel in the United States' explained the enormous pro-Israeli Jewish Lobby influence on US Middle East policies. Often harming American interests, they're pursued anyway because of its grassroots and high-level control over government, the business community, academia, the clergy and mass media since at least the 1960s. Intolerant of opposing views, they're suppressed for its own agenda, funded by PR propaganda domestically and overseas, America's top publications paid off to go along, now revealed by a secret document subpoenaed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (FRC) investigation into the American Zionist Council (AZC), AIPAC's parent lobbying arm. "Between 1962 - 1963, the FRC subpoenaed" AZC's internal documents, examining their activities as "registered agents of foreign principals," learning that over $5 million in tax exempt (and perhaps overseas funds) "had been laundered through the Jewish Agency's American Section into...more
Five Books: Stories to Shape Life
Palestine Chronicle: 25 Aug 2010 - By Susan Abulhawa (Born to refugees of the 1967 Six Day War, Susan Abulhawa is the author of the novel Mornings In Jenin, the profits of which partly go to the children's charity she founded, Playgrounds for Palestine. She chooses five books about Palestine by Palestinian writers.) My Father Was A Freedom Fighter, by Ramzy Baroud This is a wonderful book. It’s a history book, a work of literature and a memoir. Ramzy Baroud is a political commentator and historian, the editor of the Palestine Chronicle and of a book called Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts Of The Israeli Invasion, about the events of 2002. He grew up in the Gaza refugee camp and is very familiar with the psychology of the people in the camps – to this day they’re holding out hope and still dreaming of going home. He captures this delightfully and his descriptions of place and people...more
Middle East Sound of Music
Palestine Chronicle: 25 Aug 2010 - By Sherri Muzher I don't know where I'm going But, I sure know where I've been Hanging on the promises In songs of yesterday An' I've made up my mind I ain't wasting no more time But, here I go again Those lyrics belong to Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again On My Own," and might as well be the theme song for the Palestinian Authority ahead of Mideast peace talks While direct talks between Palestinians and Israelis are welcome, actions speak louder than words. The continuation of Israeli settlements speaks volumes. Physical separation and lack of contiguity has nullified the hopes of two states living side by side. One can only conclude that the talks merely present photo-op for another U.S president and more time to plant more facts on the ground for the Israeli government. Professor Stephen Walt of Harvard University and co-author of “The Israeli Lobby and U.S....more
Abbas' Position Isn't as Weak as It May Appear
Palestine Chronicle: 25 Aug 2010 - By George S. Hishmeh – Washington, D.C. Palestinians will begin heading home a year from now to reclaim property in their homeland, which they have not seen for 62 years since the state of Israel was established there. They will be welcomed at the border by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and thousands of cheering Israelis. Much to their joy, the Palestinians will discover that Lieberman has relinquished his house in a colony on the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. But they will have to wait and see whether their own homes, in Haifa or Nazareth for example, will still be standing, along with their traditional lemon, olive and fig trees and grape vines, which their parents have longed to see since the beginning of their tortuous exile in neighbouring Arab countries and elsewhere. More importantly, they will not...more
Articles Archives - August 2010
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