Saturday, May 26, 2012

Palestinian flag raised in Ann Arbor

I've been intending to get over to Ann Arbor, Michigan for some time because there is a group there called Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends (JWPF) that actually takes the stand that support of Israel is antithetical for America. I agree!

Henry Herskovitz, a leader of the group, even makes regular presentations at the meetings of the Ann Arbor city council to keep the subject of Israel on the radar. JWPF also has a vigil each Saturday at a synagogue where they present the case against Israel directly to the people who are most vigorous in supporting it. I admire this courageous employment of free speech.

Here is a very short video I've created to document the raising of the Palestinian flag just outside the Ann Arbor Jewish Community Center where a "celebration of Israel" was underway...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Medea Benjamin, peace advocate

Last night I attended a gathering to hear Media Benjamin of Code Pink, a group of women who advocate for peace, including in Israel/Palestine. I've long followed the activities of Code Pink and Medea. They are known for their loud pink outfits and demonstrations held inside stores that sell products made in the occupied territories (such as Ahava and Sodastream).

Medea has written a book, Drone Warfare, and her talk was on that subject. She told us that drones are wildly popular with over 50 countries possessing them and the industry thriving in the U.S., Israel and China. U.S. manufacturers are eager to sell to police departments and several have test programs underway. Unlike much more expensive helicopters, drones are difficult to detect, so the popularity with law enforcement and the military are to be expected.

Medea's primary concern is with the innocents who are killed in drone strikes. In both Pakistan and Yemen, the United States acts unilaterally to kill those it sees as a threat. Though there was a unanimous vote in the Pakistani parliament against U.S. drone operations in that country, the strikes continue with the full support of President Obama. One of the few things he pledged before being elected that he has followed up on as President is action against militants in Pakistan. The message from the U.S. government to the world is that it will strike when and where it pleases.

As Medea pointed out, the killing of innocents is more than likely to create more enemies for the U.S., offsetting any gain from the elimination of those who are targeted.

She told us of the wide variety of drones, ranging from the size of an insect to that of an airliner. Development of autonomous drones is underway - drones that can act without human piloting. They will also be able to summon each other to attack in groups. Hovering in place like a helicopter is possible, so with tiny drones listening to private conversations might soon be done.

Speaking easily with a wonderful lack of "you know" and "like" that are the hallmark of youthful speakers these days, Medea was obviously in command of the subject and her talk was well worth hearing.

The most interesting comment she made was that Code Pink membership had collapsed after the election of Obama after thriving during the Bush years. Medea speculated that people were exhausted and expected everything to improve under the new president. Unfortunately, just the opposite has proven to to be true.

I bought a copy of her book that she signed it for me. She will be in Chicago until the end of the NATO summit.

Looking around the room I noted the audience was elderly, something I've come to expect when attending talks about peace or the Middle East. There was a singer who closed the program who was young, but he said his CD has the title, "The Protest Song is Dead"

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

natives out, foreigners in

Sam Bahour's father is a Palestinian who left for the U.S. before the 1967 war. Because he was not present when the Israelis took a census after that war, he is not allowed to go back to his native land and may only visit as a U.S. tourist. As I hope you know, ANY Jew in the world, regardless of their native country, may go to Israel and become a citizen on the basis of their Judaism alone. Go to 7 minutes in to hear Sam speak of this and other things illogical and unjust.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

re: the Methodist Church vote on BDS

The governing body of the United Methodist Church is set to vote this week on whether to support a BDS. I hope they do, but it's no slam dunk.

Jesus was a rebel, but you sure wouldn’t know it from the huge organizations that have claimed him as a role model for their membership.

The Methodist Church is an extremely cautious organization that generally goes into the water when almost all others have already done so. The irrelevancy was one reason the faith in which I was tutored never caught on. I have my fingers and toes crossed that they will do what any person who appreciates liberty and justice for all would do.

Martin Luther King Jr. died at 39, but at least he said he could see the promised land, though he might not make it there. The Palestinians have been wretched for over 60 years and only now is there some sign of movement in the United States on their behalf. They haven’t been to the mountaintop like MLK because Israeli settlers are already there and have it cordoned off. All Americans should be ashamed of our part in keeping such long-suffering people oppressed.