Hopeful news in dismal days –
a kaleidoscope of initiatives

by G.S.   <george.salzman@umb.edu>    17 November 2007

this page is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/S2/2007-11-17.htm

Here are some welcome items of good news:
1. “In less than two years, the lease on the largest and most important US military base in Latin America will run out. The base is in Manta, Ecuador, and Rafael Correa, the country’s leftist president, has pronounced that he will renew the lease ‘on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami — an Ecuadorean base. If there is no problem having foreign soldiers on a country’s soil, surely they’ll let us have an Ecuadorean base in the United States.’”
      So begins Naomi Klein’s recent article – upbeat all the way – “Latin America's Shock Resistance”.[1] She writes, “the IMF [International Monetary Fund], supremely powerful in the 1980s and ‘90s, is no longer a force on the continent. In 2005 Latin America made up 80 percent of the IMF’s total lending portfolio; the continent now represents just 1 percent – a sea change in only two years.” “The World Bank faces an equally precarious future. In April Correa revealed that he had suspended all loans from the Bank and declared the institution’s representative in Ecuador persona non grata – an extraordinary step. Two years earlier, Correa explained, the World Bank had used a $100 million loan to defeat economic legislation that would have redistributed oil revenues to the country's poor.”

2. Within the United States the long-time impervious barrier against critical public consideration of the actions of the government of Israel and its dominant Zionist project is being breached as never before. A few indications of this rapid, very encouraging development, which follow, are:
    a. William Blum’s Anti-Empire Report of 6 Nov 2007,[2]
    b. James Petras’ essay, “Deadly Embrace: Zion-power and War,[3] and
    c. the rapidly growing grassroots movement supporting justice for Palestinians.

    a. William Blum’s report begins by zeroing in on Israel’s effort to drum up an attack on Iran, as follows:
      Last month, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told assembled world leaders at the United Nations that the time had come to take action against Iran. "None disagrees," she said, "that Iran denies the Holocaust and speaks openly of its desire to wipe a member state - mine - off the map. And none disagrees that, in violation of Security Council resolutions, it is actively pursuing the means to achieve this end. Too many see the danger but walk idly by - hoping that someone else will take care of it ... It is time for the United Nations, and the states of the world, to live up to their promise of never again. To say enough is enough, to act now and to defend their basic values."[1]
      Yet, later the same month, we are informed by Haaretz, (frequently described as "the New York Times of Israel"), that the same Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had said a few months earlier, in a series of closed discussions, that in her opinion "Iranian nuclear weapons do not pose an existential threat to Israel." Haaretz reported that "Livni also criticized the exaggerated use that [Israeli] Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is making of the issue of the Iranian bomb, claiming that he is attempting to rally the public around him by playing on its most basic fears."[2]
      What are we to make of such a self-contradiction, such perfect hypocrisy?
[1] Haaretz.com (Israeli newspaper), October 1, 2007
[2] Haaretz.com, October 25, 2007; print edition October 26

    b. James Petras’ essay, “Deadly Embrace: Zion-power and War” is a scathing attack, in my view totally justified, on the efforts of primarily Jewish-American organizations to influence American foreign policy in the interests of the Zionist state of Israel. His article goes far beyond the gentle criticisms voiced by well-publicized critics such as former president Jimmy Carter in his bestseller Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid and foreign policy academics John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, whose paper, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” [4] has now been expanded to a full-length book with the same title. Along with Carter’s book, it too is a best-seller, good indications of broad interest among the reading public.
      Petras argues that the widespread organization of Zionist groups in the United States is so powerful that it has largely controlled U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Because he sees that Zionist infrastructure as much more than just another special interest lobby, Petras disdains the relatively benign term Israel Lobby for this very real assemblage of connected groups, which he labels the Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC). I believe he overestimates the power of the ZPC as compared to U.S. geopolitical interests in determining foreign policy, but he does assemble an admirably comprehensive demonstration of the extent of efforts made by the ZPC to control US foreign policy. The ZPC, he leaves no doubt, conducts a despicable, ongoing campaign utilizing slander and other deplorable means to prevent open public discussion of the basic issues, attacking anyone who is critical of the policies of the state of Israel and/or of Zionism.

    c. A growing grassroots movement within the U.S. aimed at securing justice for all the victims of the policies of the U.S. and Israeli governments is spreading to many local communities. Some undertake actions in conjunction with efforts of the Palestinians, those in the occupied territories and those in the diaspora, to force changes of governmental policies. This movement is fueled by the emerging open discussion, such as mentioned above in a. and b., and by the accompanying rage at the realization of how U.S. foreign policy is causing immeasurable suffering and death abroad and impoverishment at home, supposedly in accord with the ZPC goal – to benefit the Zionist Israeli state.

      One example of grassroots activity is that of Hannah Mermelstein, who wrote the other day, “I got back from Palestine about 6 weeks ago...and am...on the road for the rest of the fall speaking about Palestine...Below is a list of our speaking engagements in Michigan and Ohio this coming week and next (November 13-19). I’ll send out another e-mail...about our December talks in Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Colorado...I am interested...in meeting people who are doing good local work...and in motivating people to action on this issue...I’m attaching a “What You Can Do” sheet that I recently made to give out at talks. It’s in progress and feedback is welcome.” [5]
      Many other examples of grassroots activities aiming to alleviate and end the imposed suffering of Palestinians are in Mazin Qumsiyeh’s regular e-mails.[6]

      Among the most urgent and important solidarity actions Americans can participate in within our local communities is to respond positively to a call from Gaza addressed to the entire international community, a call by The Palestinian International Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza.[7] A few days ago I received the following message:

    At the outset, we wish to convey our gratitude and appreciation for those of you who expressed interest and support to our campaign. We believe that without your support, our efforts will have less fruitful outcomes than wished for. We have been thinking about the type of activities through which our international supporters and friends could get involved.
    1- writing support letters/messages. We are currently developing our web site;
http://www.end-gaza-siege.ps . One of the issues the website will include is "Messages from the World", where letters or messages of support sent from all over the world would be posted on the website. We welcome your contributions.
    2- Organizing activities is another way to show that Gaza's voice has been heard, and people are actually responding to the call of help. Organizing conferences/marches/ workshops/galleries/even concerts, to be dedicated to send a clear message to the leaders of the world's politics that it is time to end the Siege and save Gaza from becoming a city of death. Do you think this could possibly be arranged in your area?
    3- Meeting the Israeli representatives at your area, to convey the message that the siege on Gaza must end.
    We welcome your ideas and contributions, and please if you wish to take the role of a focal point for events in your area, please let us know.

      I just examined their website, well worth looking at. Finally, I'd like to call attention to a few of my postings, the four immediately preceding this one:

Best of the New York Times – too bad, not good enough, posted 11 Nov at
http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/S2/2007-10-26.htm ,

Mazin Qumsiyeh, a voice worth listening to, posted 27 Oct at
http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/S2/2007-10-27.htm ,

The need for anti-Semitism, posted 20 Oct at
http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/S2/2007-09-12.htm , and

Into the Valley of Death rode the Israel Lobby – Part III, posted 17 Oct at
http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/S2/2007-10-17.htm .

[1] Naomi Klein’s article is at http://www.thenation.com/doc/20071126/klein .

[2] Blum’s 6 Nov 2007 report is at http://members.aol.com/bblum6/aer51.htm .

[3] Petras’ essay is at http://www.lahaine.org/petras/b2-img/petras_zion.pdf .

[4] John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. Their original working paper is at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=891198 .

[5] Hannah Mermelstein can be contacted at <hmermels@hotmail.com>. Her list of possible activities – full of ideas – is available in a rich text format file for printing on two sides of an 8.5" x 11" sheet at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/S2/2007-11-17.rtf .

[6] Mazin Qumsiyeh sends e-mails, full of information, about twice weekly. You can get them by writing him at <qumsi001@gawab.com> and asking to be added to his list.

[7] The Palestinian International Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza. The message I got came from Rania Kharma <end.gaza.siege@gmail.com> on behalf of the “End the Siege Campaign”. The campaign website is at http://www.end-gaza-siege.ps .

All comments and criticisms are welcome.  <george.salzman@umb.edu>

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Last update of this page: 17 November 2007