A struggle for the soul of capitalism

A struggle for the soul of capitalism

A Revolution in Spirit

By Benjamin R. Barber

February 24, 2009 “The Nation” — As America, recession mired, enters the hope-inspired age of Barack Obama, a silent but fateful struggle for the soul of capitalism is being waged. Can the market system finally be made to serve us? Or will we continue to serve it? George W. Bush argued that the crisis is “not a failure of the free-market system, and the answer is not to try to reinvent that system.” But while it is going too far to declare that capitalism is dead, George Soros is right when he says that “there is something fundamentally wrong” with the market theory that stands behind the global economy, a “defect” that is “inherent in the system.”

The issue is not the death of capitalism but what kind of capitalism–standing in which relationship to culture, to democracy and to life? President Obama’s Rubinite economic team seems designed to reassure rather than innovate, its members set to fix what they broke. But even if they succeed, will they do more than merely restore capitalism to the status quo ante, resurrecting all the defects that led to the current debacle?

Being economists, even the progressive critics missing from the Obama economic team continue to think inside the economic box. Yes, bankers and politicians agree that there must be more regulatory oversight, a greater government equity stake in bailouts and some considerable warming of the frozen credit pump. A very large stimulus package with a welcome focus on the environment, alternative energy, infrastructure and job creation is in the offing–a good thing indeed.

But it is hard to discern any movement toward a wholesale rethinking of the dominant role of the market in our society. No one is questioning the impulse to rehabilitate the consumer market as the driver of American commerce. Or to keep commerce as the foundation of American public and private life, even at the cost of rendering other cherished American values–like pluralism, the life of the spirit and the pursuit of (nonmaterial) happiness–subordinate to it.

Economists and politicians across the spectrum continue to insist that the challenge lies in revving up inert demand. For in an economy that has become dependent on consumerism to the tune of 70 percent of GDP, shoppers who won’t shop and consumers who don’t consume spell disaster. Yet it is precisely in confronting the paradox of consumerism that the struggle for capitalism’s soul needs to be waged.

The crisis in global capitalism demands a revolution in spirit–fundamental change in attitudes and behavior. Reform cannot merely rush parents and kids back into the mall; it must encourage them to shop less, to save rather than spend. If there’s to be a federal lottery, the Obama administration should use it as an incentive for saving, a free ticket, say, for every ten bucks banked. Penalize carbon use by taxing gas so that it’s $4 a gallon regardless of market price, curbing gas guzzlers and promoting efficient public transportation. And how about policies that give producers incentives to target real needs, even where the needy are short of cash, rather than to manufacture faux needs for the wealthy just because they’ve got the cash?

Or better yet, take in earnest that insincere MasterCard ad, and consider all the things money can’t buy (most things!). Change some habits and restore the balance between body and spirit. Refashion the cultural ethos by taking culture seriously. The arts play a large role in fostering the noncommercial aspects of society. It’s time, finally, for a cabinet-level arts and humanities post to foster creative thinking within government as well as throughout the country. Time for serious federal arts education money to teach the young the joys and powers of imagination, creativity and culture, as doers and spectators rather than consumers.

Recreation and physical activity are also public goods not dependent on private purchase. They call for parks and biking paths rather than multiplexes and malls. Speaking of the multiplex, why has the new communications technology been left almost entirely to commerce? Its architecture is democratic, and its networking potential is deeply social. Yet for the most part, it has been put to private and commercial rather than educational and cultural uses. Its democratic and artistic possibilities need to be elaborated, even subsidized.

Of course, much of what is required cannot be leveraged by government policy alone, or by a stimulus package and new regulations over the securities and banking markets. A cultural ethos is at stake. For far too long our primary institutions–from education and advertising to politics and entertainment–have prized consumerism above everything else, even at the price of infantilizing society. If spirit is to have a chance, they must join the revolution.

The costs of such a transformation will undoubtedly be steep, since they are likely to prolong the recession. Capitalists may be required to take risks they prefer to socialize (i.e., make taxpayers shoulder them). They will be asked to create new markets rather than exploit and abuse old ones; to simultaneously jump-start investments and inventions that create jobs and help generate those new consumers who will buy the useful and necessary things capitalists make once they start addressing real needs (try purifying tainted water in the Third World rather than bottling tap water in the First!).

The good news is, people are already spending less, earning before buying (using those old-fashioned layaway plans) and feeling relieved at the shopping quasi-moratorium. Suddenly debit cards are the preferred plastic. Parental “gatekeepers” are rebelling against marketers who treat their 4-year-olds as consumers-to-be. Adults are questioning brand identities and the infantilization of their tastes. They are out in front of the politicians, who still seem addicted to credit as a cure-all for the economic crisis.

And Barack Obama? We elected a president committed in principle to deep change. Rather than try to back out of the mess we are in, why not find a way forward? What if Obama committed the United States to reducing consumer spending from 70 percent of GDP to 50 percent over the next ten years, bringing it to roughly where Germany’s GDP is today? The Germans have a commensurate standard of living and considerably greater equality. Imagine all the things we could do without having to shop: play and pray, create and relate, read and walk, listen and procreate–make art, make friends, make homes, make love.

Sound too soft? Too idealistic? If we are to survive the collapse of the unsustainable consumer capitalism that has possessed our body politic over the past three decades, idealism must become the new realism. For if the contest is between the material body defined by solipsistic acquisitiveness and the human spirit defined by imagination and compassion, then a purely technical economic response is what will be too soft, promising little more than a restoration of that shopaholic hell of hyper-consumerism that occasioned the current disaster.

There are epic moments in history, often catalyzed by catastrophe, that permit fundamental cultural change. The Civil War not only brought an end to slavery but knit together a wounded country, opened the West and spurred capitalist investment in ways that created the modern American nation. The Great Depression legitimized a radical expansion of democratic interventionism; but more important, it made Americans aware of how crucial equality and social justice (buried in capitalism’s first century) were to America’s survival as a democracy.

Today we find ourselves in another such seminal moment. Will we use it to rethink the meaning of capitalism and the relationship between our material bodies and the spirited psyches they are meant to serve? Between the commodity fetishism and single-minded commercialism that we have allowed to dominate us, and the pluralism, heterogeneity and spiritedness that constitute our professed national character?

President Obama certainly inspired many young people to think beyond themselves–beyond careerism and mindless consumerism. But our tendency is to leave the “higher” things to high-minded rhetoric and devote policy to the material. Getting people to understand that happiness cannot be bought, and that consumerism wears out not only the sole and the wallet but the will and the soul–that capitalism cannot survive long-term on credit and consumerism–demands programs and people, not just talk.

The convergence of Obama’s election and the collapse of the global credit economy marks a moment when radical change is possible. But we will need the new president’s leadership to turn the economic disaster into a cultural and democratic opportunity: to make service as important as selfishness (what about a national service program, universal and mandatory, linked to education?); to render community no less valid than individualism (lost social capital can be re-created through support for civil society); to make the needs of the spirit as worthy of respect as those of the body (assist the arts and don’t chase religion out of the public square just because we want it out of City Hall); to make equality as important as individual opportunity (“equal opportunity” talk has become a way to avoid confronting deep structural inequality); to make prudence and modesty values no less commendable than speculation and hubris (saving is not just good economic policy; it’s a beneficent frame of mind). Such values are neither conservative nor liberal but are at once cosmopolitan and deeply American. Their restoration could inaugurate a quiet revolution.

The struggle for the soul of capitalism is, then, a struggle between the nation’s economic body and its civic soul: a struggle to put capitalism in its proper place, where it serves our nature and needs rather than manipulating and fabricating whims and wants. Saving capitalism means bringing it into harmony with spirit–with prudence, pluralism and those “things of the public” (res publica) that define our civic souls. A revolution of the spirit.

Is the new president up to it? Are we?

Rothschild Agents Take 10 Key Posts In Obama Administration

Rothschild Agents Take 10 Key Posts In Obama Administration

Michael Collins Piper � American Free Press February 23, 2009

OUR GREATEST FOUNDING FATHER and first president, George Washington, probably wouldn�t be ready to celebrate his birthday on Feb. 22 if he were alive today. Having led the 13 colonies to independence from the British Empire in 1783, following the course of a difficult eight-year struggle by those freedom-loving American colonists who followed him, Washington (who lived from 1732 to 1799) would most assuredly be appalled to see that the liberties achieved from the American Revolution are now being flagrantly defied by a number of figures who populate the upper ranks of the administration of Barack Obama.

Six former Rhodes Scholars (educated at Oxford University in Britain) and four others associated with the London School of Economics are serving in key posts in the Obama administration. That�s not good.

Here are 10 of the key �British��that is, Rothschild �operatives now ensconced in the Obama administration (more can be expected):

Susan Rice � ambassador to the UN; Michael McFaul � head of the Russian desk at the National Security Council; Elena Kagan � solicitor general of the United States; Anne-Marie Slaughter � State Department policy planning staff; Neal S.Wolin � deputy counsel to the president for economic policy; Ezekial Emanuel � senior counselor at the White House Office of Management and Budget on health care policy; Lawrence Summers � head of the National Economic Council; Peter Orszag � director of the Office of Management and Budget; Peter Rouse � senior advisor to the president; Mona Sutphen � deputy chief of the White House staff.

The truth about the Rhodes Scholarships is not known to the average American who is constantly told by the mass media that Rhodes Scholars (such as former President Bill Clinton) are among �the best and the brightest.�

The Rhodes Scholarships�awarded to Americans and students from other former British colonies�are funded by a trust set up by 19th Century British imperial figure Cecil Rhodes, whose intent was to indoctrinate these scholars with the theme that the American colonies should be reunited with the British Empire and that they should work through �public service� to achieve that goal. But Rhodes wasn�t just some rich madcap dreamer. His ventures were underwritten by the international Rothschild dynasty operating from the financial district in London known as �The City��the banking center of the Rothschild controlled British empire that also includes the London School of Economics.

So now a clique of internationalists trained in the idea of extinguishing American independence are ensconced in the Obama administration.

And another Rhodes Scholar, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, is widely touted as the great Grand Old Party candidate to �take back the White House� in 2012. Jindal doesn�t offer �change.� He�like the other globalists in the Obama administration�is part of the problem.

All of this is not a �conspiracy theory.� Rather, these facts are well known to those familiar with what the Rhodes scholarships are really about.
www.americanfreepress.net/html/rothschild_agents_168.html

Malcolm X on Zionism

Malcolm X on Zionism

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Wednesday, 25 February 2009
Malcolm X (Omowale Malcolm X Shabazz)MalcolmEgypt

Malcolm X spelled out his views on Zionism during the last half-year of his life. “These Israeli Zionists,” said Malcolm, in an issue of the Egyptian Gazette, “religiously believe their Jewish God has chosen them to replace the outdated European colonialism with a new form of colonialism.”

Malcolm X on Zionism
Malcolm X (Omowale Malcolm X Shabazz)

This following appeared in the Egyptian Gazette, September 17, 1964, and can be found at Malcolm-x.org.

The Zionist armies that now occupy Palestine claim their ancient Jewish prophets predicted that in the “last days of this world” their own God would raise them up a “messiah” who would lead them to their promised land, and they would set up their own “divine” government in this newly-gained land, this “divine” government would enable them to “rule all other nations with a rod of iron.”
If the Israeli Zionists believe their present occupation of Arab Palestine is the fulfillment of predictions made by their Jewish prophets, then they also religiously believe that Israel must fulfill its “divine” mission to rule all other nations with a rod of irons, which only means a different form of iron-like rule, more firmly entrenched even, than that of the former European Colonial Powers.
These Israeli Zionists religiously believe their Jewish God has chosen them to replace the outdated European colonialism with a new form of colonialism, so well disguised that it will enable them to deceive the African masses into submitting willingly to their “divine” authority and guidance, without the African masses being aware that they are still colonized.
CAMOUFLAGE

experiencing great difficulties. During the 19th century, when the The Israeli Zionists are convinced they have successfully camouflaged their new kind of colonialism. Their colonialism appears to be more “benevolent,” more “philanthropic,” a system with which they rule simply by getting their potential victims to accept their friendly offers of economic “aid,” and other tempting gifts, that they dangle in front of the newly-independent African nations, whose economies are masses here in Africa were largely illiterate it was easy for European imperialists to rule them with “force and fear,” but in this present era of enlightenment the African masses are awakening, and it is
impossible to hold them in check now with the antiquated methods of the 19th century.

The imperialists, therefore, have been compelled to devise new methods. Since they can no longer force or frighten the masses into submission, they must devise modern methods that will enable them to manouevre the African masses into willing submission.

The modern 20th century weapon of neo-imperialism is “dollarism.” The Zionists have mastered the science of dollarism: the ability to come posing as a friend and benefactor, bearing gifts and all other forms of economic aid and offers of technical assistance. Thus, the power and influence of Zionist Israel in many of the newly “independent” African nations has fast-become even more unshakeable than that of the 18th century European colonialists… and this new kind of Zionist colonialism differs only in form and method, but never in motive or objective.

At the close of the 19th century when European imperialists wisely foresaw that the awakening masses of Africa would not submit to their old method of ruling through force and fears, these ever-scheming imperialists had to create a “new weapon,” and to find a “new base” for that weapon.
DOLLARISM

The number one weapon of 20th century imperialism is zionist dollarism, and one of the main bases for this weapon is Zionist Israel. The ever-scheming European imperialists wisely placed Israel where she could geographically divide the Arab world, infiltrate and sow the seed of dissension among African leaders and also divide the Africans against the Asians.

Zionist Israel’s occupation of Arab Palestine has forced the Arab world to waste billions of precious dollars on armaments, making it impossible for these newly independent Arab nations to concentrate on strengthening the economies of their countries and elevate the living standard of their people.
And the continued low standard of living in the Arab world has been skillfully used by the Zionist propagandists to make it appear to the Africans that the Arab leaders are not intellectually or technically qualified to lift the living standard of their people … thus, indirectly “enducing” Africans to turn away from the Arabs and towards the Israelis for teachers and technical assistance.
“They cripple the bird’s wing, and then condemn it for not flying as fast as they.”
The imperialists always make themselves look good, but it is only because they are competing against economically crippled newly independent countries whose economies are actually crippled by the Zionist-capitalist conspiracy. They can’t stand against fair competition, thus they dread Gamal Abdul Nasser’s call for African-Arab Unity under Socialism.
MESSIAH?

Zionism? If Ralph Bunche is not their messiah, and their messsiah has If the “religious” claim of the Zionists is true that they were to be led to the promised land by their messiah, and Israel’s present occupation of Arab Palestine is the fulfillment of that prophesy: where is their messiah whom their prophets said would get the credit for leading them there? It was Ralph Bunche who “negotiated” the Zionists into possession of Occupied Palestine! Is Ralph Bunche the messiah of not yet come, then what are they doing in Palestine ahead of their messiah?

Did the Zionists have the legal or moral right to invade Arab Palestine, uproot its Arab citizens from their homes and seize all Arab property for themselves just based on the “religious” claim that their forefathers lived there thousands of years ago? Only a thousand years ago the Moors lived in Spain. Would this give the Moors of today the legal and moral right to invade the Iberian Peninsula, drive out its Spanish citizens, and then set up a new Moroccan nation … where Spain used to be, as the European zionists have done to our Arab brothers and sisters in Palestine?…
In short the Zionist argument to justify Israel’s present occupation of Arab Palestine has no intelligent or legal basis in history … not even in their own religion. Where is their Messiah?

How Can U.S. Recover Without Manufacturing Capacity?

How Can U.S. Recover Without Manufacturing Capacity?

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Wednesday, 25 February 2009
AbandonedFactoryPresident Obama has put a huge emphasis on building a green economy. However, most of the sources of solar panels and wind turbines are located in Europe and Asia. They’ll have to be imported, creating jobs for workers in other countries.
How Can U.S. Recover Without Manufacturing Capacity?

AbandonedFactory

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by

Glen Ford

“You can’t put people to work in American factories that don’t exist.”

The strength of the federal economic stimulus package is seriously diluted by the fact that many  of the manufactured goods that will be purchased for the attempted recovery must be imported from outside the United States. America simply doesn’t make lots of things, anymore. That means many billions of dollars that folks assumed would go towards fueling an American economic comeback, will instead provide work and paychecks to employees in other countries, that still have manufacturing bases. That’s fine with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is dominated by large multinational corporations – the same guys that began stripping the United States of manufacturing jobs decades ago.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was one of the main lobbyists opposed to provisions that would have mandated that stimulus money go to U.S. companies. The Chamber is a U.S. organization in name only, like its finance capital comrades, the guys that gave the world such a bad case of the dreaded “American Disease,” much of the planet is praying that cash-rich China will eventually bail everybody out.

The United States’ lack of a manufacturing capacity makes it even less likely that anything resembling a lasting recovery can emerge from President Obama’s approach to the economic crisis. The infrastructure projects that are supposed to be central to the recovery scheme are only valued at $150 billion – which is not much of a jolt, especially when much of what will have to be bought is only available in other countries, made by foreign workers. Barack Obama has put a huge emphasis on building a green economy. However, according to the New York Times, most of the sources of solar panels and wind turbines are located in Europe and Asia. There can be no green economy without a mass transit makeover of the United States, but the U.S. hasn’t made subway and light rail cars in many years. They’d have to be imported.

“Most of the sources of solar panels and wind turbines are located in Europe and Asia.”

Every product that must be imported for the infrastructure project means a watering down of the stimulus impact of the dollars spent. You can’t put people to work in American factories that don’t exist.

A true national recovery effort would mean re-industrialization, on a grand scale and a green model, through massive direct federal creation of state-owned industries independent of the finance capitalists who murdered American manufacturing and then blew up their own businesses on Wall Street. But this is already nearly impossible, since President Obama is committed to saving the banking class through unlimited infusions of public money, and then allowing these reborn zombies to resume their roles as lords of development. The bankster parasites have neither the capacity nor the intention to build anything other than mountains of debt for the rest of us. Therefore, Obama’s partnership with them spells doom for national recovery.

Like Billy Preston said, Nothin’ from noth in’ leaves nothin’.”The U.S. cannot create the conditions for economic health without rebuilding a manufacturing capacity. And the remnants of Wall Street have nothing to contribute to an economic recovery, but an infinite capacity to steal.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at
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Clinton Warns Israel over Delays in Gaza Aid

Clinton Warns Israel over Delays in Gaza Aid

Readers Number : 52

25/02/2009 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has relayed messages to Israel in the past week expressing anger at obstacles Israel is placing to the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. A leading political source in Tel Aviv noted that senior Clinton aides have made it clear that the matter will be central to Clinton’s planned visit to the Zionist entity next Tuesday.

Ahead of Clinton’s visit, special U.S. envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is expected to issue a sharply worded protest on the same matter when he arrives here Thursday. “Israel is not making enough effort to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza,” senior U.S. officials told Israeli counterparts last week, and reiterated Washington’s view by saying that “the U.S. expects Israel to meet its commitments on this matter.”

Two weeks ago, four senior European Union officials sent a letter to the Israeli prime minister, foreign minister, defense minister and Yitzhak Herzog, the minister charged with humanitarian aid transfers to the Gaza Strip, protesting delays in the flow of aid through the crossings into Gaza. The officials also demanded that Israel formulates a clear policy on this issue.

In response, Israel explained that the delay stems, in part, from the uncertainty regarding the fate of captured Israeli occupation soldier Gilad Shalit,

[WITH ISRAEL EVERYTHING IS LINKED WITH SOMETHING ELSE.  THE DELIVERY OF LIFE-SUSTAINING FOOD TO A PRISON POPULATION THAT IS ENTIRELY DEPENDENT ON UN AID FOR SURVIVAL IS TOTALLY UNRELATED TO THE FATE OF ONE P.O.W.]

but also claimed that efforts are being made to improve the situation.

Herzog also asked Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to hold a meeting in order to revaluate current policy on the delivery of aid to Gaza.

Sources at the Israeli defense establishment confirmed last night that pressure is increasing on Israel to reopen the crossings to larger volumes of aid for the Gaza Strip. Defense sources said that Israel will find it increasingly difficult to counter the pressure, and may agree to more extensive use of the crossings for aid. Currently, fewer than 200 trucks carrying aid are allowed through daily. The U.S., the EU and the UN are demanding that at least 500 trucks carrying aid be allowed into the Strip daily.

Major General (res.) Amos Gilad, who heads the diplomatic-security bureau at the Defense Ministry, issued a statement Tuesday denying European Union reports on the breadth of humanitarian aid being allowed to enter Gaza. “Contrary to EU reports, 116,400 tons of humanitarian aid was allowed into the Gaza Strip according to requests made by international organizations and private groups since the cease-fire went into effect on January 18. Any claim of food shortage [in Gaza] is false.”  [ACCORDING TO MY CALCULATIONS THAT EQUALS A MERE 4 POUNDS PER DAY OF “HUMANITARIAN AID,” EVEN IF THIS ALL FOOD AND DRINK, REMEMBER THAT ONE GALLON OF LIQUID EQUALS NINE POUNDS!!]


However, an incident occurred last week at a crossing into the Gaza Strip that gave a very different impression to a senior observer. When Senator John Kerry visited the Strip, he learned that many trucks loaded with pasta were not permitted in. When the chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee inquired as to the reason for the delay, he was told by United Nations aid officials that “Israel does not define pasta as part of humanitarian aid – only rice shipments.”

Kerry asked Barak about the logic behind this restriction, and only after the senior U.S. official’s intervention did the defense minister allow the pasta into the Strip. The U.S. senator updated colleagues at the Senate and other senior officials in Washington of the details of his visit.

The issue of humanitarian aid is central to a major debate between Israel’s foreign and defense ministries. The former supports broadening the amount and types of aid, while the defense ministry opposes anything it considers “concessions” to Hamas.

A senior source dealing with humanitarian aid issues on the Israeli side said that Gilad has prepared a list of “humanitarian aid items” and refuses to broaden it. “Authority is in the hands of one person, and he is not willing to help,” the source said.

Meanwhile, Palestinian sources warned last night that the American plan for a $900 million in reconstruction aid for the Gaza Strip will not have an effect without a cease-fire agreement with Israel. As long as Israel refuses to allow the transfer of iron and cement into the Strip, the sources said, it will be impossible to rebuild the destroyed infrastructure. The same sources also expressed skepticism at the value of Clinton’s scheduled visit, saying that without a government that can be pressured into making substantive concessions to the Palestinian Authority, the visit is void of meaning.

The BattleFor Bil’in

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The BattleFor Bil’in

By Eileen Fleming

24 February, 2009
Countercurrents.org

[Bil’in, Feb. 23, 2009] For four years, the beleaguered agricultural village of Bil’in in the West Bank has resisted the route of Israel’s Wall; which in Bil’in is composed of miles of electrified-barbed wire fencing that denies the landowners access to their legally owned land.

The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that The Fence must be moved and the stolen land restored to the Bil’in villagers; but civil and military authorities have not complied and last week, night time raids by Israel escalated.

Mahmoud Zwahre, a coordinator of the Popular Committee Against The Wall, wrote:

Imagine being awakened to the sound of a stun grenade. Imagine such a grenade landing in your front yard every night. This is the reality that residents of Palestinian villages who are struggling against the apartheid wall are forced to deal with since the attack on Gaza.

These nightly invasions by the army, which terrorize villagers, are becoming ever more frequent. Invasions take place three to four times a week in the villages of Beit Likia and Bil’in. In the last week, the villages of Ma’asara, Ni’ilin and Jayus too have joined the list, as troops have been harassing those who participate and organize the village protests.

Around 12:30 at night the solders [knocked on] the door of my house [demanding] I open the door; more than 10 solders entered my house without my permission…they pushed me out side in the cold weather with very light clothes…they told me that they are going to arrest me and they [bound] me …I’m on the ground on my knees at that time; I thought that I’m in Guatanomo…and then they told me…we are going to arrest you next week we are going to come in more difficult way; so don’t come to demonstrate, don’t organize demos…While they was checking in my house they found emails for many friends from solidarity associations.

Today or tomorrow we are going to win because we have the faith.-end Mahmoud

Even with the four years of media blackout on the popular struggle, thousands of Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals have been waging a nonviolent campaign of resistance to the construction of the route of Israel’s Wall in the Occupied Territories.

Palestinian farmers, mothers, children and activists have been braving teargas, beatings, bullets, arrest, and even death to rise up against the most well equipped army in the world, with nothing more than their own bodies and determination.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that The Wall is a violation of International Law because it cuts through the West Bank appropriating Palestinian land and destroying Palestinian villages and economy in order to establish more illegal settlements.

The route of The Electric Fence in Bil’in and the Israeli army prohibits the indigenous people to tend and harvest their olive groves. Over 2,003 dunums of prime agricultural land have been confiscated by The Electric Fence.

The Israelis built apartments for 750 settlers that the indigenous people are forbidden to enter.

In Billin, the Green Line is five miles from The Electric Fence and the Popular Committee in Bilin has been fighting the illegal actions of the Israeli government with demonstrations and legal actions.

The Israeli government attempts to justify their land theft by returning to the Ottoman Law that states if the landowner doesn’t tend his land it can be confiscated by the State. The Israeli army and The Electric Fence have prevented the indigenous people from accessing their legally owned land, thus depriving them of food, income and human rights.

After the indigenous people of Bilin brought their case to the Israeli Municipal Court and the High Court; both courts agreed the building of the settlement dwellings was indeed illegal and ordered the construction to cease in January 2006. Construction continued and the settlers moved in and the High Court accepted these ‘facts on the ground’ but the indigenous people have not given up seeking justice.

Every Friday afternoon in Bilin after prayer at the mosque the ritual march in nonviolent solidarity to The Wall/Electric Fence unites the indigenous people, Israeli and international activists in the struggle who sing and chant slogans such as:

“The wall will fall in Bilin; the wall will fall like in Berlin.”

On November 10, 2006 I was one of over 40 internationals from the UK, France, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Netherlands and the US who marched with dozens of Israeli Anarchists Against the Wall and over 300 locals down the dirt road to The Wall/Electric Fence.

Soldiers hid behind trees to the right and to the left of us while over five dozen well armed soldiers stood on the other side of The Wall/Fence with one videotaping us.

I was inspired to go to Bil’in in Nov. 2005 , after attending a power point lecture in Gainesville, Florida given by a Palestinian and Israeli member of Anarchists Against the Wall/AAtW.

Jonathan Pollak, said: “I was six years old at my first demonstration and active on my own at thirteen. I am 23 now. When they started to build the Apartheid Wall in the West Bank I would go a few times a week and watch them deceive the world. The Israeli government successfully marketed the Apartheid Wall as a security barrier. But it is all about segregation, separation and ethnic cleansing.

“Civilian uprising and non-violent activism is not like the Gandhi movie. It`s not carrying posters and saying we don`t like your wall, go away. We stand in front of Caterpillar`s knowing we will be shot and arrested. I was shot five times in the last two years by rubber bullets which are 1/2 inch steel bullets covered with plastic. I have been shot in the head and the more experience I have the scarier it is. One learns to recognize the ritual of it all: when the IDF will begin using the billy clubs, when the tear gas will come, when the bullets will come…..We are not a dialogue group, AAtW is an Israeli organization and we are not colonial liberators. All the strategy is done by Palestinians, we are with them seeking justice and giving support. There is no price to high to pay for freedom, equality and universal rights. Without justice there can be no peace.

“Negotiations alone will not secure freedom for the Palestinian people. During the negotiations of the so-called Oslo Peace Process from 1993-2000, Israel simply imposed its will on the Palestinians, using its overwhelming military and economic power, and US support. During seven years of supposed peace, Palestinians saw 200,000 new Israeli settlers arrive in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the same number of settlers that had arrived there in the previous 26 years.

“However, the recent grassroots struggle against Israel’s Wall has demonstrated that it may be possible to counter Israel’s overwhelming power, and its exploitation of negotiations, through nonviolent resistance. The Wall, is just one blatant Israeli attempt to impose its will, and has become a focus for civilian resistance.

“Although Israel marketed the Wall as a security barrier, logic suggests such a barrier would be as short and straight as possible. Instead, it snakes deep inside the West Bank, resulting in a route that is twice as long as the Green Line, the internationally recognized border. Israel chose the Wall’s path in order to dispossess Palestinians of the maximum land and water, to preserve as many Israeli settlements as possible, and to unilaterally determine a border.

“In order to build the Wall Israel is uprooting tens of thousands of ancient olive trees that for many Palestinians are also the last resource to provide food for their children.

“The Palestinian aspiration for an independent state is also threatened by the Wall, as it isolates villages from their mother cities and divides the West Bank into disconnected cantons [Bantustans/ghettos]. The Israeli human rights organization B`Tselem conservatively estimates that 500,000 Palestinians are negatively impacted by the Wall.

“Faced with a history of suffering, Palestinians have no alternative but to struggle. The only question is how? Killing diminishes our humanity, and Israel’s occupation, which has killed thousands of Palestinians, shouldn’t be our teacher. It is time for both sides to refuse killing.

“Though Palestinians have employed nonviolence since 1929, they have seen little evidence that it will help them to achieve freedom. In 2003-2004, the West Bank village of Budrus decided to set an example for how nonviolence can defeat the Wall.

“All the people of Budrus mobilized, and were joined by Israeli and international activists. In 55 nonviolent marches, Israeli soldiers injured more than 300 people, arrested 33 and killed one, as the villagers, with their bodies alone, attempted to stop the destruction of their land. Faced with Budrus` determined protests, the Israeli government eventually moved the Wall to the Green Line. The village saved 300 acres of its land and 3000 olive trees. Children, women and old people were among the heroes of Budrus` nonviolent struggle.

“Throughout the West Bank, nine protesters were killed in marches against the Wall, thousands were injured and hundreds arrested. Hundreds of civilian protests throughout the West Bank are the reason the world learned of the injustice of the Wall. As a direct result, the International Court of Justice at the Hague ruled in 2004 that Israel’s construction of the Wall violated international law.

“The village of Budrus and the International Court of Justice ruling represent victories for nonviolent resistance. Another success of the joint struggle was the connection forged between Palestinians and the Israelis who joined them in their resistance. This connection, stronger than anything that ideas could create, was unwittingly forged by the Israeli army, through their beatings, the joint arrests and the bullets. Joining Palestinians in nonviolent struggle has allowed some Israelis to voice very clearly that the struggle against occupation and for freedom is not a Palestinian struggle alone, but is their struggle as well.

“We believe that, as with Apartheid South Africa, Americans have a vital role to play in ending Israeli occupation – by speaking out, coming to Palestine as witnesses, or standing with Palestinians in nonviolent resistance.

“We are confident that Israeli occupation will one day be defeated, as were other US government supported repressive regimes – Apartheid South Africa, Pinochet`s Chile and racial segregation in the United States. There is no price too great to pay for freedom, and nothing will deter us from achieving this goal.`

After chanting a while in front of the soldiers, Jonathan was the first down the steep rocky hill and over a metal railing to grab the roll of razor sharp barbed wire that is in front of the electrified fence in order to shake it. He was immediately joined by a few dozen locals and other AAtW who were swiftly greeted by the first of dozens of sound bombs-thick orange plastic grenades that hit the ground with a deafening sound.

I was half way down the hill when a teenager next to me threw a rock at a soldier and I know that action alone can get one killed or arrested, so I headed back up the hill before the tear gas assaulted the crowd at the barbwire. By the time I made it up the hill the first of hundreds of rubber bullets were being shot into the crowd. Only two internationals were hit and other than a few Palestinian adolescents and young boys throwing rocks all remained nonviolent. I was told that because of the large International presence no live ammo was fired; although the week before a Frenchman took a bullet in the arm while standing next to a group of children. He was back at the Friday ritual with a cast and sling on.

On June 6, 2008 , Vice President of the European Parliament Luisa Morgantini and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Maried Corrigan-Maguire were both assaulted by Israeli Forces with tear gas during the Friday afternoon ritual they attended after speaking at Bil’in’s third annual international conference supporting nonviolent protests against the wall and military occupation of the West Bank agricultural village.

“Around midday, the participants of the conference went to watch a football match between the villagers of Bil’in and the international participants of the conference near the wall. The football game, which coincided with the start of the European Championship tournament, was, according to Abdullah Abu Rahme, the conference moderator, a message to the world that Israel, also denies the Palestinians the right to play. Soon after the match started, Israeli troops showered the players with a number of tear gas bombs which forced them to stop the match. A number of the players and the spectators were treated for gas inhalation.”[1]

According to protestors, dozens of the hundreds of demonstrators on hand were hurt by tear gas, while several were hit by gas canisters. Former Palestinian National Security Advisor Jibril Rajoub and Palestinian Legislative Council Member Dr. Mustafa al-Barghouti were also hurt by tear gas. Regarding Morgantini’s condition, the army said that “those who take part in such protests and violate a closed military zone order should not be surprised to see the IDF respond with tear gas.”[2]

Jonatan Pollak stated that the army fired a “dazzling amount” of gas canisters, “about 30-40 per barrage.”[IBID]

At the conclusion of the second annual Bil’in conference, on April 21st, 2007 , Mairead Maguire, was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet by Israeli Forces an hour after a press conference where she stated:

“Thanks to the media here for telling the truth…Bring this truth to whatever country you come from. Non-violence will solve the problems here in Israel and Palestine. Often, the world sees only violence. But Palestinians are a good people, working towards non-violence. This Wall must fall! It is an insult to the human family and to the world– that we are building Apartheid Walls in the 21st Century! More than forty years of Occupation and Land Appropriation.”

After Maried Maquire was shot and while being carried to safety, the army continued to fire into the non-violent crowd. “The resilience was astounding. The demonstrators kept regrouping. Even Ms. Maguire, after being shot and with red, watery tear-gassed eyes– she rejoined the march.…An estimated 25 people were either hit with rubber bullets, soldier batons, or received medical care from tear gas inhalation.” [4]

Máiread previously wrote: “Hope for the future depends on each of us taking nonviolence into our hearts and minds and developing new and imaginative structures which are nonviolent and life-giving for all. Some people will argue that this is too idealistic. I believe it is very realistic. I am convinced that humanity is fast evolving to this higher consciousness. For those who say it cannot be done, let us remember that humanity learned to abolish slavery. Our task now is no less than the abolition of violence and war…. We can rejoice and celebrate today because we are living in a miraculous time. Everything is changing and everything is possible.

“While Governments can make a difference, in the final analysis it is the individual – that is each one of us – that will bring the dream of a nonviolent world to reality. We, the people must think and act nonviolently. We must not get stuck in the past as to do so will destroy the imagination and creativity which is so n a new future together.

“To change our world we need a spiritual and a political evolution. The political steps are often very obvious: uphold Human rights, and International Laws, demand our Governments meet their obligations under these Laws, support and reform United Nations, etc., However, all the legislation, resolutions, and fine talk will be of no use, if we do not as men and women evolve and become transformed, so that we, the human family, achieve a more enlightened and humane way of living together, and solving conflicts.” [5]

Support the Struggle with words:

Sample letter:

To Ministry of Defense

I write to you in order to protest against the nightly invasions of the villages of Bil’in, Beit Likia, Ni’ilin, Jayus and Ma’asara, committed by the Israeli army on an almost every-night basis. Such actions are in violation of international law, which hold the occupying army responsible to the welfare and safety of civilians living under its rule. You must stop these invasions at once, and prosecute whoever is responsible for them.

Sincerely,

Ministry of Defense email: pniot@mod.gov.il This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

Contact info for more Israeli Ministers @:
http://www.gov.il/FirstGov/BottomNavEng/Contact

1. http://www.bilin-village.org/english/
2. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3552745,00.html
3. IBID
4. http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/04/21/april-20-bilin-protest/
5. http://www.wearewideawake.org/index.php?
option=com_content&task=view&id=128&Itemid=105

Learn More:

http://www.bilin-village.org

Eileen Fleming, Author, Founder, Senior Correspondent WAWA:
http://www.wearewideawake.org/
Producer “30 Minutes With Vanunu” and “13 Minutes with Vanunu”

Who will sit at the big table?

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Fedyashin) – On February 19, United Nation members will gather at the UN headquarters on the Hudson River to discuss the reform of the most important and conservative international body, the Security Council. The General Assembly approved the idea of a reform at its previous, 62nd session.

The fact that the idea was approved by a majority vote does not mean that it will go through at the 63rd session, or even in the foreseeable future.

There is no doubt that the United Nations requires reform. No matter what diplomats may say about its progressive nature and steady advance into the future, its operation on the basis of principles and structure established 60 years ago is a flagrant anachronism in this day and age.

Throughout its entire existence, the United Nations has been reformed only once, in 1965, when the number of non-permanent members (elected for two years without the right of veto) was increased from six to ten.

Nobody in the United Nations objects to reform — quite the contrary. However, when one group of countries makes proposals on a reform, the other group immediately submits its contrary proposals to the Secretariat. This happened, for instance, in 2005 when Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan started talking about the need for reform.

The Group of Four (G4) suggests extending the number of permanent members by six countries, and non-permanent ones by four. Instead of 15 members (five permanent ones with the right of veto – Britain, Russia, China, the United States, and France) and 10 non-permanent ones, the Security Council will have 25 members. Naturally enough, the G4 has included itself and two African countries in the number of the proposed permanent members.

An alternative proposal was made almost immediately, and is also valid. It was initiated by India’s eternal antagonist Pakistan, Brazil’s long-standing rival Argentina, and Italy and Spain, which do not want to see Germany made a permanent member. They were backed by Kenya, which was upset that the G4 wanted to make South Africa, and not it, a permanent member.

The most radical members of the United Nations, which include some Latin American and African countries, are calling for its complete overhaul. They propose that the General Assembly’s decisions, rather than Security Council resolutions, should be binding for all UN members.

Russia has emphasized more than once the need for a sensible approach. Any extension of the Security Council should be within reasonable limits, and voting on the Security Council’s reform should not split either the Council or the United Nations. Obviously, any changes in the configuration of the Council will not be in Russia’s favor. The same is true of the United States, China, and, to a lesser extent, France and Britain. Other UN members have long disliked these big powers.

The process is now underway, and will continue for months.