Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gush Shalom -- Red and Green



Uri Avnery 


Red and Green




Channel 10, one of Israel's three TV channels, aired a report this week that surely frightened a lot of viewers. Its title was "Who is Organizing the World-wide Hatred of Israel Movement?", and its subject: the dozens of groups in various countries which are conducting a vigorous propaganda campaign for the Palestinians and against Israel.


The activists interviewed, both male and female, young and old - quite a number of them Jews - demonstrate at supermarkets against the products of the settlements and/or of Israel in general, organize mass meetings, make speeches, mobilize trade unions, file lawsuits against Israeli politicians and generals.


According to the report, the various groups use similar methods, but there is no central leadership. It even quotes (without attribution, of course) the title of one of my recent articles, "The Protocols of the Elders of Anti-Zion" and it, too, asserts that there is no such thing. Indeed, there is no need for a world-wide organization, it says, because all over the place there is a spontaneous surge of pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli feeling. Recently, following the "Cast Lead" operation and the flotilla affair, this process has gathered momentum.


In many places, the report discloses, there are now red-green coalitions: cooperation between leftist human-rights bodies and local groups of Muslim immigrants.


The conclusion of the story: this is a great danger to Israel and we must mobilize against it before it is too late.


THE FIRST question that arose in my mind was: what impact is this report going to have on the average Israeli?


I wish I could be sure that it will cause him or her to think again about the viability of the occupation. As one of the activists interviewed said: the Israelis must be brought to understand that the occupation has a price tag.


I wish I believed that this would be the reaction of most Israelis. However, I am afraid that the effect could be very different.


As the jolly song of the 70s goes: "The whole world is against us / That's not so terrible, we shall overcome. / For we, too, don't give a damn / For them. // … We have learned this song / From our forefathers / And we shall also sing it / To our sons. / And the grandchildren of our grandchildren will sing it / Here, in the Land of Israel, / And everybody who is against us / Can go to hell."


The writer of this song, Yoram Taharlev ("pure of heart") has succeeded in expressing a basic Jewish belief, crystallized during the centuries of persecution in Christian Europe which reached its climax in the Holocaust. Every Jewish child learns in school that when six million Jews were murdered, the entire world looked on and didn't lift a finger to save them.


This is not quite true. Many tens of thousands of non-Jews risked their lives and the lives of their families in order to save Jews � in Poland, Denmark, France, Holland and other countries, even in Germany itself. We all know about people who were saved this way - like former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak, who as a child was smuggled out of the ghetto by a Polish farmer, and Minister Yossi Peled, who was hidden for years by a Catholic Belgian family. Only a few of these largely unsung heroes were cited as "Righteous among the Nations" by Yad Vashem. (Between us, how many Israelis in a similar situation would risk their lives and the lives of their children in order to save a foreigner?)


But the belief that "the whole world is against us" is rooted deep in our national psyche. It enables us to ignore the world reaction to our behavior. It is very convenient. If the entire world hates us anyhow, the nature of our deeds, good or bad, doesn't really matter. They would hate Israel even if we were angels. The Goyim are just anti-Semitic.


It is easy to show that this is also untrue. The world loved us when we founded the State of Israel and defended it with our blood. A day after the Six-day War, the whole world applauded us. They loved us when we were David, they hate us when we are Goliath.


This does not convince the world-against-us people. Why is there no world-wide movement against the atrocities of the Russians in Chechnya or the Chinese in Tibet? Why only against us? Why do the Palestinians deserve more sympathy than the Kurds in Turkey?


One could answer that since Israel demands special treatment in all other matters, we are measured by special standards when it comes to the occupation and the settlements. But logic doesn't matter. It's the national myths that count.


Yesterday, Israel's third largest newspaper, Ma'ariv, published a story about our ambassador to the United Nations under the revealing headline: "Behind enemy lines".


 I REMEMBER one of the clashes I had with Golda Meir in the Knesset, after the beginning of the settlement enterprise and the angry reactions throughout the world. As now, people put all the blame on our faulty "explaining". The Knesset held a general debate.


Speaker after speaker declaimed the usual clichés: the Arab propaganda is brilliant, our "explaining" is beneath contempt. When my turn came, I said: It's not the fault of the "explaining". The best "explaining" in the world cannot "explain" the occupation and the settlements. If we want to gain the sympathy of the world, it's not our words that must change, but our actions.


Throughout the debate, Golda Meir � as was her wont � stood at the door of the plenum hall, chain-smoking. Summing up, she answered every speaker in turn, ignoring my speech. I thought that she had decided to boycott me, when � after a dramatic pause � she turned in my direction. "Deputy Avnery thinks that they hate us because of what we do. He does not know the Goyim. The Goyim love the Jews when they are beaten and miserable. They hate the Jews when they are victorious and successful." If clapping were allowed in the Knesset, the whole House would have burst into thunderous applause.


There is a danger that the current worldwide protest will meet the same reaction: that the Israeli public will unite against the evil Goyim, instead of uniting against the settlers.


SOME OF the protest groups could not care less. Their actions are not addressed to the Israeli public, but to international opinion.


I don't mean the anti-Semites, who are trying to hitch a ride on this movement. They are a negligible force. Neither do I mean those who believe that the creation of the State of Israel was a historical mistake to start with, and that it should be dismantled.


I mean all the idealists who wish to put an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people and the stealing of their land by the settlers, and to help them to found the free State of Palestine.


These aims can be achieved only through peace between Palestine and Israel. And such a peace can come about only if the majority of Palestinians and the majority of Israelis support it. Outside pressure will not suffice.


Anyone who understands this must be interested in a world-wide protest that does not push the Israeli population into the arms of the settlers, but, on the contrary, isolates the settlers and turns the general public against them.


How can this be achieved?


 THE FIRST thing is to clearly differentiate between the boycott of the settlements and a general boycott of Israel. The TV report suggested that many of the protesters do not see the border between the two. It showed a middle-aged British woman in a supermarket, waving some fruit over her head and shouting: "these come from a settlement!" Then it showed a demonstration against the Ahava cosmetic products that are extracted from the Palestinian part of the Dead Sea. But immediately after, there came a call for a boycott of all Israeli products. Perhaps many of the protesters � or the editors of the film - are not clear about the difference.


The Israeli right also blurs this distinction. For example: a recent bill in the Knesset wants to punish those who support a boycott on the products of Israel, including � as it states explicitly - the products of the settlements.


If the world protest is clearly focused on the settlements, it will indeed cause many Israelis to realize that there is a clear line between the legitimate State of Israel and the illegitimate occupation.


That is also true for other parts of the story. For example: the initiative to boycott the Caterpillar company, whose monstrous bulldozers are a major weapon of the occupation. When the heroic peace activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death under one of them, the company should have stopped all further supplies unless assured that they would not be used for repression.


As long as suspected war criminals are not brought to justice in Israel itself, one cannot object to the initiatives to prosecute them abroad.


After this week's decision by the main Israeli theaters to perform in the settlements, it will be logical to boycott them abroad. If they are so keen to make money in Ariel, they can't complain about losing money in Paris and London.


 THE SECOND thing is the connection between these groups and the Israeli public.


Today a large majority of Israelis say that they want peace and are ready to pay the price, but that, unfortunately, the Arabs don't want peace. The mainstream peace camp, which could once bring hundreds of thousands onto the street, is in a state of depression. It feels isolated. Among other things, its once close connection with the Palestinians, which was established at the time of Yasser Arafat after Oslo, has become very loose. So have relations with the protest forces abroad.


If people of goodwill want to speed up the end of the occupation, they must support the peace activists in Israel. They should build a close connection with them, break the conspiracy of silence against them in the world media and publicize their courageous actions, organize more and more international events in which Palestinian and Israeli peace activists will be present side by side. It would also be nice if for every ten billionaires who finance the extreme Right in Israel, there were at least one millionaire supporting action in pursuit of peace.


All this becomes impossible if there is a call for a boycott on all Israelis, irrespective of their views and actions, and Israel is presented as a monolithic monster. This picture is not only false, it is extremely harmful.


Many of the activists who appear in this report arouse respect and admiration. So much good will! So much courage! If they point their activities in the right direction, they can do a lot of good - good for the Palestinians, and good for us Israelis, too.


permlink:  http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1282993254/


Avnery columns' archive  http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Calendar - Part 1

Baltimore Activist Alert Aug. 31 – Sept. 29, 2010


"I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours.

The initiative to stop it must be ours." -Martin Luther King Jr.


Friends, this list and other email documents which I send out are done under the auspices of the Baltimore Nonviolence Center.  Go to www.baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com.  If you appreciate this information and would like to make a donation, send contributions to BNC, 325 East 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218.  Max Obuszewski can be reached at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski [at] verizon.net.


The Baltimore IndyMedia Center publicizes peace-related events. Go to http://www.radicalendar.org/group/_baltimore.


1] Books, buttons and stickers

2] Web site for info on federal legislation

3] Join Nonviolent Resistance lists  

4] Buy coffee through HoCoFoLA  

5] Used stamps for humanitarian causes

6] Anne Feeney needs our help

7] War Is Not the Answer demo – Aug. 31

8] Peace Vigil in Philadelphia – Sept. 1

9] Chestnut Hill, PA vigil – Sept. 1

10] Support Candidate Krist Boardman – Sept. 1

11] WIB Towson vigil – Sept. 2

12] Palestine/Israel Roundtable – Sept. 2

13] First Thursday vigil against war – Sept. 2

14] Rachel Corrie & Beyond – Sept. 2

15] Catch an Os game – Sept. 2

16] Crabshell Alliance meeting – Sept. 2

17] WIB Frederick vigil – Sept. 3

18] White House vigil – Sept. 3      

19] WIB Inner Harbor vigil – Sept. 3

20] WIB Roland Park vigil – Sept. 3   

21] Justice for Palestine/Israel vigil – Sept. 3

22] Homewood vigil – Sept. 3

23] Vigil at Walter Reed – Sept. 3

24] Film BREAD AND ROSES – Sept. 3

25] ALC Retreat – Sept. 3-6

26] Ballroom dancing – Sept. 3

27] W. Baltimore Farmers Market – Sept. 4

28] Olney vigil to end the war – Sept. 4                          

29] Peace vigil in Chester, PA – Sept. 4

30] Peace vigil at Capitol – Sept. 4

31] Peace meal – Sept. 4



1] – Buttons, bumperstickers and books are available.  “God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions” stickers are in stock. Call Max at 410-366-1637.


2] – To obtain information how your federal legislators voted on particular bills, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/.  Congressional toll-free numbers are 888-818-6641, 888-355-3588 or 800-426-8073. The White House Comment Email is accessible at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/.

3] – THE ORGANIZING LIST will be the primary decision-making mechanism of the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR].  It will be augmented by conference calls and possibly in-person meetings as needed.  It will consist of 1 or 2 representatives from each local, regional, or national organization (not coalitions) that wishes to actively work to carry out the NCNR campaign of facilitating and organizing nonviolent resistance to the war in Iraq.


To join the ORGANIZING List, please send your name, group affiliation, city and email address to donmuller@msn.com.  Different local chapters of a national organization are encouraged to subscribe.  


THE NOTICES LIST will include only notices of NCNR actions and related information and is open to any interested person to subscribe.  It will be moderated to maintain focus & will include periodic notices about getting involved in NCNR national organizing.  To join the NOTICES List, send an email message to ncnrnotices-subscribe@lists.riseup.net. You will get a confirmation message once subscribed.  If you have problems, please write to the list manager at ncnrnotices-admin@lists.riseup.net.


4] – You can help safeguard human rights and fragile ecosystems through your purchase of HOCOFOLA Café Quetzal. Bags of ground coffee or whole beans can be ordered by mailing in an order form. Also note organic cocoa and sugar are for sale.  For more details and to download the order form, go to http://friendsoflatinamerica.typepad.com/hocofola/2010/02/hocofola-cafe-quetzal-order-form-2010.html.


Be sure you indicate ground (G) or bean (B) for each type of coffee ordered. Make the check out to HoCoFoLA and send it with your order form to Nancy Meier, 10 Pepperdine Circle, Catonsville, MD 21228.  Contact Pat McLaine at 410-964-0960 or pamcl@aol.com.  The coffee will arrive some time the following week and you will be notified where to pick it up.


5] – Brad Hathaway spearheads an effort to sell donated used stamps to raise money for different humanitarian causes around the world. Go to www.mattapoisettquakers.org, and click the link for the stamp ministry.  Carefully clip canceled postage stamps and send to Quaker Missions, PO Box 795, Mattapoisett, MA 02739. Send no small flag stamps or Liberty Bell Forever stamps.


6] – Anne Feeney has recently been diagnosed with a lung tumor and will not be able to work for some time. She is looking for a thousand friends to each donate $50 (no more than that). If you can make a donation, it can be sent to Anne Feeney, 2240 Milligan Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15218 or you can go online at www.getwellanne@aneefeeney.com.  You can send Anne good wishes at www.annefeeney.com/guestbook.html.

7] – There is a vigil to say "War Is Not the Answer" each Tuesday since September 11, 2001 at 4806 York Road. Join this ongoing vigil.  The next vigil is Aug. 31 from 5:30 to 6:30 PM. Note participants will make a call for clean energy.  Call Max at 410-366-1637.


8] – Each Wednesday from 4:30 - 5:30 PM, the House of Grace Catholic Worker holds a weekly vigil for peace in Iraq outside the Phila. Federal Building, 6th & Market Sts. The next vigil is Sept. 1. Call 215-426-0364.


9] – Each Wednesday, the Northwest Greens hold a peace vigil from 7 to 8 PM outside the Borders Book Store, Germantown Ave. at Bethlehem Pike in Chestnut Hill, PA. The next vigil is Sept. 1. Call 215-843-4256 or email nwgreens@yahoo.com.


10] – The New Harford Democratic Club is having a congressional forum for the 2nd District, maybe 1st District too.  Krist Boardman, who is running as a Democratic candidate against Dutch Ruppersberger on a platform of Money for Jobs, Not for War will participate in the forum on Wed., Sept. 1 at 7 PM at the Aberdeen Holiday Inn off I-95.  Krist is looking for volunteers to hold his banner with his platform message.  You can learn more about his campaign by going to his The Baltimore Sun blog, which can be found on the paper’s web site.  Contact Max at 410-366-1637 if you can help get Krist’s message out. 


11] – There is a WIB peace stand on Thurs., Sept.  2, noon-1PM in Towson at northwest corner of Washington & Chesapeake Aves., across the street from the post office, near the courthouse. Contact mbrainzo@aol.com. This vigil takes place on the first Thursday of the month.


12] – On Thurs., Sept. 2, the WEEKLY ROUNDTABLE SEEKING A JUST PEACE IN PALESTINE/ISRAEL takes place from 12:30 - 1:30 PM at Potter's House, 1658 Columbia Road NW, WDC.  Join a civil discourse which explores the history, issues, myths, realities, and truth of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Contact Alice Azzouzi at 202-232-5483.


13] – The Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore hosts an End the War! End the Occupation! rally on Thurs., Sept. 2 from 5 to 6:30 PM in Mount Vernon at Centre & Charles Sts.  The Pledge gathers in Mount Vernon on the first Thursday of the month to protest the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Call Max at 410-366-1637.


14] – On Thurs., Sept. 2 from 6 to 8 PM at Busboys & Poets, 5th & K Sts., NW, WDC, there will be a discussion about the International Solidarity Movement--Rachel Corrie & Beyond.  Rachel Corrie -- a 23-year-old volunteer from Olympia, WA -- was run over by an Israeli bulldozer and killed while protesting home demolitions in the Gaza Strip. But that was 7 years ago...Not only has the ISM refused to be intimidated by Israeli attempts to shut it down, but volunteers in both the West Bank and Gaza are increasingly coming from all age groups and walks of life. Telling their stories will be Adam Shapiro, a human rights activist, documentary filmmaker and in 2001 one of the co-founders of the ISM in Palestine; and Pam Bailey and Keren Batiyov, both DC-area residents and Palestinian rights activists who defied stereotypes to become ISM volunteers after the age of 50.


15] – Public Defenders Night at Camden Yards is Thurs., Sept. 2 when the Orioles play the Boston Red Sox at 7 PM.  Net proceeds from ticket sales will be split between MCDAA & NACDL's Foundation for Criminal Justice.  Tickets are $15, and the seats are Upper Reserved on the home-first base side, Sections 322.  Contact Lou Curran at 410-499-8899 or lcurran@opd.state.md.us.


Keep the staycation going when the O's take on the Tampa Bay Rays on Fri., Sept. 3 at 7 PM.  Tickets are $13 Upper Reserved seats behind home plate.  This is a benefit for an Unnamed Softball League. 


16] – The Crabshell Alliance will meet on Thurs., Sept. 2 at 7:30 PM in a private home.  Call Max at 410-366-1637 for directions.  The meeting will focus on a nuclear waste protest on Wed., Sept. 29 on Charles St. by Penn Station from 5 to 6:30 PM.   This is part of an international effort to highlight the dangers of nuclear waste.  The mission of the Crabshell Alliance is to protest the construction of new nuclear reactors in Maryland, promote clean, safe, sustainable, and affordable energy, and educate the public about the hazards of nuclear power.


17] – WIB holds a silent vigil mourning all violence, the first Friday of the month.  The next vigil is Sept. 3 from 12 noon to 12:30 PM, War Memorial Park, intersection of W. 2nd & N. Bentz Sts. in Frederick.  Please dress in black; no additional signs.  Call 301-834-7581 or email wibfrederick@mizmail.com.


18] – A peace vigil takes place every Friday from noon to 1 PM at Lafayette Park facing the White House.  Join the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and friends. Contact Art Laffin: artlaffin@hotmail.com.   

19] – Every Friday from noon to 1 PM, Women in Black, Baltimore, host a vigil at Pratt and Light Sts. in the Inner Harbor. Peace signs and flyers about the siege will be available. See http://www.peacepath911.com/ or write wibbaltimore@hotmail.com or call 410-467-9114

20] – There is also a noon vigil, weather permitting, on Fri., Sept. 3 at Roland Park Place at 830 W. 40th St.  Call 410-467-9114.

21] – A vigil for Justice in Palestine/Israel (now in its 8th year) takes place every Friday from noon to 1 PM at 19th & JFK Blvd., Philadelphia (across from Israeli Consulate.  It is sponsored by Bubbies & Zaydes (Grandparents) for Peace in the Middle East. Email cswartz@pil.net. Go to http://phillyjewishpeace.org/.

22] – There is a silent vigil on Fri., Sept. 3 from 5 to 6 PM outside of Homewood Friends Meeting, 3107 N. Charles St., in opposition to war in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Placards say: "War Is Not the Answer." The silent vigil is sponsored by AFSC, Homewood Friends and Stony Run Meetings. 


23] – SHED LIGHT ON US WAR CASUALTIES: FROM THE FRONT LINE TO THE BACK DOOR of Walter Reed Army Medical Center (North Gate), every Friday night, from 7 to 9 PM in the middle of the 7100 block of Georgia Ave., NW. The vigil calls for peace, care for the wounded, and full benefits for all veterans.  Contact Bruce Wolf - Haunteddog@aol.com.


24] – On Fri., Sept. 3 watch BREAD AND ROSES, which is being shown as part of the "JUST-REEL” First Friday Free Film Series at the Peace Center of Delaware County, 7 PM, 1001 Old Sproul Road, Springfield, Delaware County, PA. The evening will include light refreshments and an after-film discussion. It is co-sponsored by the Brandywine Peace Community. Call 610-544-1818. Go to www.delcopeacecenter.org. The film is a timely depiction of undocumented workers seeking justice.


25] – You are invited to the Atlantic Life Community Retreat on Labor Day Weekend, Fri., Sept. 3 through Mon., Sept. 6. The theme of the retreat is "Permanent War Economy means Endless War (Most Suffer, Few Profit),” so "How do we help each other to Resist?" There will be several sessions that would cover this theme and allow for discussion about the ramifications of resistance. There will also be a remembrance of the Plowshares 8 action, as it will be the 30th anniversary.  This will be the 39th anniversary of the Camden 28 action. 


The retreat will be held at The Romero Center, 2907 Federal St. [between 28th & 29th Sts.], Camden, NJ 08105-2229.  The cost will be $1200, so attendees must make a donation. For directions, contact Bill Hartman at 856-305-6923 or billhartman1@verizon.net.  Go to http://www.jonahhouse.org/. For a map go to http://new.mapquest.com/mq/2-M*Ao1gVT.


26] –  There is an opportunity to participate in ballroom dancing, usually every Friday of the month, in the JHU ROTC Bldg. at 8 PM.  Turn south on San Martin Dr. from the intersection of Univ. Parkway and 39th St.  Drive on campus by taking the third left turn. The next dance will be Sept. 3. Call Dave Greene at 410-599-3725.

27] – Citizens Planning and Housing Association is urging you to shop at the W. Baltimore Farmer's Market on Sat., Sept. 3 from 8 AM to noon and every Saturday through Nov. 20. The market is located at the West Baltimore MARC train station parking lot (400 block of Smallwood St. between Franklin and Mulberry). CPHA provides technical assistance to WBMTTI. Call 410-539-1369 or email info@cphabaltimore.org.

28] – Friends House, 17715 Meeting House Rd., Sandy Spring, MD 20860, hosts a peace vigil every Saturday, 10:30 to 11:30 AM, on the corner of Rt. 108 and Georgia Ave. in Olney, MD.  The next vigil is Sept. 3. Call Chuck Harker at 301-570-7167. 

29] –  Each Saturday, 11 AM – 1 PM, Chester County Peace Movement holds a peace vigil in West Chester in front of the Chester County Courthouse, High & Market Sts. Go to www.ccpeace.org. Email ccpeacemovement@aol.com.


30] – There will be a peace vigil on the West Lawn of the Capitol at noon on Sept. 3. Look for the blue banner with the message, "Seek Peace and Pursue It.--Psalms 34:14." The vigil lasts one hour and is silent except when one responds to the occasional questions. Go to http://www.quaker.org/langleyhill/seekpeace.htm or email seekpeacevigil@yahoo.com.


31] – On Sat., Sept. 4 at 1 PM at 4209 East West Hwy, Chevy Chase, MD 20815, join the Peace Meal and hear Joaquin Ricardo Aguilar (HUMANO) who will discuss The Way of Being, a guide to help all along the path of peace and love to go within and find yourself, be yourself, and know yourself.  Born in El Salvador, Humano is an accomplished artist, poet, editor, and author of two books. He published a book in 1999 called the WAY OF BEING, and he will share his teachings. RSVP at shantiyoga2@earthlink.net.  Go to www.schooloflife.org.  Call 301-654-4899x9. Program starts with interfaith prayers and songs, followed by blessing of the food ceremony, then the speaker's address along with a hot vegetarian lunch. 


To be continued.


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Support antiwar candidate Krist Boardman/Join us at antiwar vigil on First Thursday/We Owe the Troops an Exit

 The New Harford Democratic Club is having a congressional forum for the 2nd District, maybe 1st District too.  Krist Boardman, who is running as a Democratic candidate against Dutch Ruppersberger on a platform of Money for Jobs, Not for War will participate in the forum on Wed., Sept. 1 at 7 PM at the Aberdeen Holiday Inn off I-95.  Krist is looking for volunteers to hold his banner with his platform message.  You can learn more about his campaign by going to his The Baltimore Sun blog, which can be found on the paper’s web site.  Contact Max at 410-366-1637 if you can help get Krist’s message out. 


 The Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore hosts an End the War! End the Occupation! rally on Thurs., Sept. 2 from 5 to 6:30 PM in Mount Vernon at Centre & Charles Sts.  The Pledge gathers in Mount Vernon on the first Thursday of the month to protest the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Call Max at 410-366-1637.


The New York Times


August 30, 2010

We Owe the Troops an Exit


At least 14 American soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan over the past few days.

We learned on Saturday that our so-called partner in this forlorn war, Hamid Karzai, fired a top prosecutor who had insisted on, gasp, fighting the corruption that runs like a crippling disease through his country.

Time magazine tells us that stressed-out, depressed and despondent soldiers are seeking help for their mental difficulties at a rate that is overwhelming the capacity of available professionals. What we are doing to these troops who have been serving tour after tour in Afghanistan and Iraq is unconscionable.

Time described the mental-health issue as “the U.S. Army’s third front,” with the reporter, Mark Thompson, writing: “While its combat troops fight two wars, its mental-health professionals are waging a battle to save soldiers’ sanity when they come back, one that will cost billions long after combat ends in Baghdad and Kabul.”

In addition to the terrible physical toll, the ultimate economic costs of these two wars, as the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and his colleague Linda Bilmes have pointed out, will run to more than $3 trillion.

I get a headache when I hear supporters of this endless warfare complaining about the federal budget deficits. They’re like arsonists complaining about the smell of smoke in the neighborhood.

There is no silver lining to this nearly decade-old war in Afghanistan. Poll after poll has shown that it no longer has the support of most Americans. And yet we fight on, feeding troops into the meat-grinder year after tragic year — to what end?

“Clearly, the final chapters of this particular endeavor are very much yet to be written,” said Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, during a BBC interview over the weekend. He sounded as if those chapters would not be written any time soon.

In a reference to President Obama’s assertion that U.S. troops would begin to withdraw from Afghanistan next July, General Petraeus told the interviewer: “That’s a date when a process begins, nothing more, nothing less. It’s not the date when the American forces begin an exodus and look for the exit and the light to turn off on the way out of the room.”

A lot of Americans who had listened to the president thought it was, in fact, a date when the American forces would begin an exodus. The general seems to have heard something quite different.

In truth, it’s not at all clear how President Obama really feels about the awesome responsibilities involved in waging war, and that’s a problem. The Times’s Peter Baker wrote a compelling and in many ways troubling article recently about the steep learning curve that Mr. Obama, with no previous military background, has had to negotiate as a wartime commander in chief.

Quoting an unnamed adviser to the president, Mr. Baker wrote that Mr. Obama sees the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as “problems that need managing” while he pursues his mission of transforming the nation. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, speaking on the record, said, “He’s got a very full plate of very big issues, and I think he does not want to create the impression that he’s so preoccupied with these two wars that he’s not addressing the domestic issues that are uppermost in people’s minds.”

Wars are not problems that need managing, which suggests that they will always be with us. They are catastrophes that need to be brought to an end as quickly as possible. Wars consume lives by the thousands (in Iraq, by the scores of thousands) and sometimes, as in World War II, by the millions. The goal when fighting any war should be peace, not a permanent simmer of nonstop maiming and killing. Wars are meant to be won — if they have to be fought at all — not endlessly looked after.

One of the reasons we’re in this state of nonstop warfare is the fact that so few Americans have had any personal stake in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is no draft and no direct financial hardship resulting from the wars. So we keep shipping other people’s children off to combat as if they were some sort of commodity, like coal or wheat, with no real regard for the terrible price so many have to pay, physically and psychologically.

Not only is this tragic, it is profoundly disrespectful. These are real men and women, courageous and mostly uncomplaining human beings, that we are sending into the war zones, and we owe them our most careful attention. Above all, we owe them an end to two wars that have gone on much too long.

Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs