Thursday, September 23, 2010

Message to Obama on Israel: Cut Off the Money

Israel and Obama

By Bill Fletcher, Jr. Editorial Board

Sept. 23, 2010 - The so-called peace talks between Israel and the Palestine National Authority raise a number of interesting and, in some respects, provocative questions. One concerns whether the Israeli government has any interest in a just peace.  The second is whether the Netanyahu group (in power) wishes to bring down President Obama.

In terms of the first question, that is, of the Israeli government's interest in a just peace, there is, unfortunately, no evidence to believe that such an interest exists.

With regard to the question of President Obama, there is an interesting trail of events.  Since Obama's election the attitude of the Israeli political establishment towards him has been less than enthusiastic.  In fact, it has been nothing short of insulting.  The first responses to the Obama presidency were largely cautious, though in the background there was fear and anger.  Racist remarks began to emerge regarding Obama, with the Israeli right-wing transferring some of its anti-Palestinian racism and Islamophobia onto their attitude towards President Obama.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Beaver County's Big Knob Fair Meets the Peace and Jobs Movement

Lessons Learned at the

Big Knob Grange Fair

By Carl Davidson and Randy Shannon

Beaver County Blue

The Big Knob Grange Fair, held Aug. 30 through Sept. 4 up in the lovely rolling hills above Rochester, PA, a distressed mill town at the confluence of the Beaver and Ohio rivers, is a “big doin’s’ in Beaver County, and has been for 70 years or so.

It features blue grass and country rock bands, tractor and truck ‘pulls,’ a demolition derby, dozens of rides for kids, booths for local politicians, hunting clubs, garden clubs, home improvement vendors, and local artisans. The Grange members serve delicious home-cooked food, display prize-winning livestock, fowl, and garden produce. The oldest and the latest in farm equipment are also on display. In recent years, the Fair draws from 30,000 to 40,000 semi-rural farmers and blue-collar workers with their families, and a horde of young people, and this year, with glorious weather, was no different.

This year the Fair had a new feature co-sponsored by Beaver County Peace Links and the 4th CD Chapter of Progressive Democrats of America. Near the middle of the big striped circus tent was a table with a large banner hanging behind it: ‘War Is Making You Poor!’ Many of the hundreds of passersby on any one of the five days stopped and did a double take. Some ambled on, but a good number stopped to chat and see what it was all about.

“We were there every day from 4pm until 10pm,” said Randy Shannon, treasurer of the 4th CD Progressive Democrats of America. “People start flowing in after work. In addition to our banner, there was a giant 4ft x 5ft poster showing that Beaver County taxpayers have shelled out $54 million per year for the last ten years for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is almost the same amount as the county’s annual general fund tax collections.”

Carl Davidson explained his contribution: “We set up an internet connection with a cell phone. With a monitor and a laptop I showed some antiwar videos picked by Beaver County Peace Links, including a looping video of an apple pie being divided like the US budget. The military got half the pie.”

Todd and Emily Davis made a unique contribution to the table. Todd, a Methodist pastor, is the chairperson of Peace Links. They labeled 10 jars with the main categories of the federal budget. They were arrayed in front of a small backdrop that read: 'Take the penny poll: how would YOU spend your tax dollars.’

Friday, September 10, 2010

Afghan Doves: Exit Strategy or Deeper Quagmire by 2012?

Afghanistan: Beltway Doves Propose

Phased Withdrawal as 2012 Looms


By Tom Hayden

Progressive America Rising via

Sept 9, 2010 - Anthony Saldana for the PJRA moderate Democratic-leaning study group has released a proposal to “fast track a peace process” in Afghanistan and withdraw 32,000 American troops by October 2011 and another 38,000 by late 2012, the period of the next presidential election.

The proposal, which was reported in the Aug. 18 Bulletin, was released at a Washington DC press conference Sept. 8. The so-called Afghanistan Study Group, a project of the New America Foundation, drew on input from 46 academic experts and former policy-makers.

For the full report, read A New Way Forward: Rethinking U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan. For an additional exit strategy by former State Department official William R. Polk read Steps Toward Withdrawal.

The director of the current study group is Matthew Hoh, a former Marine and civilian adviser in Afghanistan, became the first US official to resign in protest of the Afghanistan war, in September 2009. Hoh, who was interviewed by the Bulletin last year, has become a passionate, outspoken and well-informed critic within the cloistered culture of national security policy.

Monday, September 6, 2010

We Need Jobs, Not War - For Real

Obama on Iraq's 'Ending':

A Speech for Endless War

September 6, 2010
By Norman Solomon
Beaver County Peace Links via Z-Net  
On the last night of August, the president used an Oval Office speech to boost a policy of perpetual war.
Hours later, the New York Times front page offered a credulous gloss for the end of “the seven-year American combat mission in Iraq.” The first sentence of the coverage described the speech as saying “that it is now time to turn to pressing problems at home.” The story went on to assert that Obama “used the moment to emphasize that he sees his primary job as addressing the weak economy and other domestic issues -- and to make clear that he intends to begin disengaging from the war in Afghanistan next summer.”
But the speech gave no real indication of a shift in priorities from making war to creating jobs. And the oratory “made clear” only the repetition of vague vows to “begin” disengaging from the Afghanistan war next summer. In fact, top administration officials have been signaling that only token military withdrawals are apt to occur in mid-2011, and Obama said nothing to the contrary.

Israeli Settlements Continue, With or Without Talks



An Unsettled Issue

Israeli Settlement Construction Booms Despite Ban

By Juliane von Mittelstaedt in Jerusalem

In Washington, the Israelis and Palestinians are discussing peace, but in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, construction is proceeding at full speed. A legal ban is being ignored and the government is looking away. The thousands of new homes could hinder reconciliation.

Officially, at least, this is the hour of diplomacy. For the first time in two years, Israelis and Palestinians are meeting for direct peace talks. United States President Barack Obama has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Washington. Settlement construction is one of the most sensitive issues at the talks.

It's also an issue where the fronts are growing increasingly tense. "As far as we are concerned, we will continue building after we have buried our dead," Naftali Bennett, the general director of the settlers' association Yesha said hours before the start of peace talks. Just a short time after his announcement, the settlers began erecting several symbolic settlements in the West Bank. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, Bennett had threatening words. "It is not good enough that the moratorium will end on Sept. 26," he said. "Ehud Barak needs to act to approve 3,000 new housing units -- 1,500 of them right now."

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Debate Enters the Mainstream: One State for Israel-Palestine?

Photo: Walled West Bank Settlement Construction

Israel and Palestine: A true one-state solution

By George Bisharat

Washington Post Op-Ed

Friday, September 3, 2010

"Where is the Palestinian Mandela?" pundits occasionally ask. But after these latest Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Washington fail -- as they inevitably will -- the more pressing question may be: "Where is the Israeli de Klerk?" Will an Israeli leader emerge with the former South African president's moral courage and foresight to dismantle a discriminatory regime and foster democracy based on equal rights?

For decades, the international community has assumed that historic Palestine must be divided between Jews and Palestinians. Yet no satisfactory division of the land has been reached. Israel has aggravated the problem by settling roughly 500,000 Jews in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, eliminating the land base for a viable Palestinian state.

A de facto one-state reality has emerged, with Israel effectively ruling virtually all of the former Palestine. Yet only Jews enjoy full rights in this functionally unitary political system. In contrast, Palestinian citizens of Israel endure more than 35 laws that explicitly privilege Jews as well as policies that deliberately marginalize them. West Bank Palestinians cannot drive on roads built for Israeli settlers, while Palestinians in Gaza watch as their children's intellectual and physical growth are stunted by an Israeli siege that has limited educational opportunities and deepened poverty to acute levels.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wrong Turn: Obama's Diplomacy With Guns and Boots on the Ground

Let's Fact Check the AP's

Fact Checking on Obama's Speech

By David Swanson

Beaver County Peace Links via

FACT CHECK: Is Iraq combat really over for US?


WASHINGTON — Despite President Barack Obama's declaration Tuesday of an end to the combat mission in Iraq, combat almost certainly lies ahead. And in asserting the U.S. has met its responsibilities in Iraq, the president opened the door wide to a debate about the meaning of success in the muddle that most — but not all — American troops are leaving behind. A look at some of the statements Obama made in his Oval Office speech and how they compare with the facts:


OBAMA: "Tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended."

THE FACTS: Peril remains for the tens of thousands of U.S. troops still in Iraq, who are likely if not certain to engage violent foes. Counterterrorism is chief among their continuing missions, pitting them against a lethal enemy. Several thousand special operations forces, including Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs, will continue to hunt and attempt to kill al-Qaida and other terrorist fighters — working closely with Iraqi forces. Obama said, "Of course, violence will not end with our combat mission," while stopping short of a full accounting of the hazards ahead for U.S. troops.

Excellent point, but let's not leave out the thousands of mercenaries and tens of thousands of contractors.