DOROTHY ONLINE NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS

“I think sometimes we all get caught up in what acts of war and aggression ought to be – we forget to stop and think of what are the logical consequences of maintaining this level of hostility. I am one of those people trying to say simply, “Can we just take a look and understand that the logical consequences are dire?” And so, for me, the only comfort is to talk to people like Hedy Epstein who say, “The biggest danger, the biggest threat to America is that we will scare ourselves into fascism, or into war. That is, I think, the biggest danger here.” [Item 2 “Interview with Donna Marsh O’Connor, national spokesperson for September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, who lost her pregnant daughter Vanessa in the second tower on 9-11.”]

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Dear Friends,

5 items this evening,  most rather long. 

The first is a refreshing outlook by Michael Moore on the much disputed Muslim center to be built near ground zero—the location of the twin towers tragedy 9 years ago.  The 2nd is on the same subject but from the standpoint of a woman who lost her pregnant daughter in the disaster, yet who rather than wanting vengence belongs to a bereaved family organization that hopes for an end to wars and to racism. 

Item 3 relates positive news: the campaign to get the California divestment issue on the ballot takes off.  I wish it luck and hope that when the signing begins that those of you who are registered voters in California will add  your names.

Item 4 is brief.  It relates that the soldier who shot and killed Tom Hurndall has been released from prison.  Tom’s mother’s remark at the end is the most significant part of the report.

Item 5 is an opinion piece about why the new Israeli Chief of Staff has been chosen and that all he knows is force.  I can only hope that the analyst is wrong about Yoav Galant being willing to attack Iran.  Enough wars!  Enough killing! Let us for a change have peace.  Yet I can see a certain logic to threatening Iran with Galant.  An attack on Iran, or even the threat of an attack would be a sure way to end the so-called ‘peace’ talks.

Dorothy

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1. Michael Moore

September 11th, 2010

If the ‘Mosque’ Isn’t Built, This Is No Longer America

 Muslims in Iran hold September 18, 2001 candlelight vigil in remembrance of those killed on 9/11

 1 of 1  

http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mike-friends-blog/if-mosque-isnt-built-no-longer-america

By Michael Moore

OpenMike 9/11/10

Michael Moore’s daily blog

I am opposed to the building of the “mosque” two blocks from Ground Zero.

I want it built on Ground Zero.

Why? Because I believe in an America that protects those who are the victims of hate and prejudice. I believe in an America that says you have the right to worship whatever God you have, wherever you want to worship. And I believe in an America that says to the world that we are a loving and generous people and if a bunch of murderers steal your religion from you and use it as their excuse to kill 3,000 souls, then I want to help you get your religion back. And I want to put it at the spot where it was stolen from you.

There’s been so much that’s been said about this manufactured controversy, I really don’t want to waste any time on this day of remembrance talking about it. But I hate bigotry and I hate liars, and so in case you missed any of the truth that’s been lost in this, let me point out a few facts:

1. I love the Burlington Coat Factory. I’ve gotten some great winter coats there at a very reasonable price. Muslims have been holding their daily prayers there since 2009. No one ever complained about that. This is not going to be a “mosque,” it’s going to be a community center. It will have the same prayer room in it that’s already there. But to even have to assure people that “it’s not going to be mosque” is so offensive, I now wish they would just build a 111-story mosque there. That would be better than the lame and disgusting way the developer has left Ground Zero an empty hole until recently. The remains of over 1,100 people still haven’t been found. That site is a sacred graveyard, and to be building another monument to commerce on it is a sacrilege. Why wasn’t the entire site turned into a memorial peace park? People died there, and many of their remains are still strewn about, all these years later.

2. Guess who has helped the Muslims organize their plans for this community center? The JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER of Manhattan! Their rabbi has been advising them since the beginning. It’s been a picture-perfect example of the kind of world we all want to live in. Peter Stuyvessant, New York’s “founder,” tried to expel the first Jews who arrived in Manhattan. Then the Dutch said, no, that’s a bit much. So then Stuyvessant said ok, you can stay, but you cannot build a synagogue anywhere in Manhattan. Do your stupid Friday night thing at home. The first Jewish temple was not allowed to be built until 1730. Then there was a revolution, and the founding fathers said this country has to be secular — no religious nuts or state religions. George Washington (inaugurated around the corner from Ground Zero) wanted to make a statement about this his very first year in office, and wrote this to American Jews:

“The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy — a policy worthy of imitation. …

“It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens …

“May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants — while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.”

3. The Imam in charge of this project is the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet. Read about his past here.

4. Around five dozen Muslims died at the World Trade Center on 9/11. Hundreds of members of their families still grieve and suffer. The 19 killers did not care what religion anyone belonged to when they took those lives.

5. I’ve never read a sadder headline in the New York Times than the one on the front page this past Monday: “American Muslims Ask, Will We Ever Belong?” That should make all of us so ashamed that even a single one of our fellow citizens should ever have to worry about if they “belong” here.

6. There is a McDonald’s two blocks from Ground Zero. Trust me, McDonald’s has killed far more people than the terrorists.

7. During an economic depression or a time of war, fascists are extremely skilled at whipping up fear and hate and getting the working class to blame “the other” for their troubles. Lincoln’s enemies told poor Southern whites that he was “a Catholic.” FDR’s opponents said he was Jewish and called him “Jewsevelt.” One in five Americans now believe Obama is a Muslim and 41% of Republicans don’t believe he was born here.

8. Blaming a whole group for the actions of just one of that group is anti-American. Timothy McVeigh was Catholic. Should Oklahoma City prohibit the building of a Catholic Church near the site of the former federal building that McVeigh blew up?

9. Let’s face it, all religions have their whackos. Catholics have O’Reilly, Gingrich, Hannity and Clarence Thomas (in fact all five conservatives who dominate the Supreme Court are Catholic). Protestants have Pat Robertson and too many to list here. The Mormons have Glenn Beck. Jews have Crazy Eddie. But we don’t judge whole religions on just the actions of their whackos. Unless they’re Methodists.

10. If I should ever, God forbid, perish in a terrorist incident, and you or some nutty group uses my death as your justification to attack or discriminate against anyone in my name, I will come back and haunt you worse than Linda Blair marrying Freddy Krueger and moving into your bedroom to spawn Chucky. John Lennon was right when he asked us to imagine a world with “nothing to kill or die for and no religion, too.” I heard Deepak Chopra this week say that “God gave humans the truth, and the devil came and he said, ‘Let’s give it a name and call it religion.’ ” But John Adams said it best when he wrote a sort of letter to the future (which he called “Posterity”): “Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.” I’m guessing ol’ John Adams is up there repenting nonstop right now.

Friends, we all have a responsibility NOW to make sure that Muslim community center gets built. Once again, 70% of the country (the same number that initially supported the Iraq War) is on the wrong side and want the “mosque” moved. Enormous pressure has been put on the Imam to stop his project. We have to turn this thing around. Are we going to let the bullies and thugs win another one? Aren’t you fed up by now? When would be a good time to take our country back from the haters?

I say right now. Let’s each of us make a statement by donating to the building of this community center! It’s a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization and you can donate a dollar or ten dollars (or more) right now through a secure pay pal account by clicking here. I will personally match the first $10,000 raised (forward your PayPal receipt to webguy@michaelmoore.com). If each one of you reading this blog/email donated just a couple of dollars, that would give the center over $6 million, more than what Donald Trump has offered to buy the Imam out. C’mon everyone, let’s pitch in and help those who are being debased for simply wanting to do something good. We could all make a huge statement of love on this solemn day.

I lost a co-worker on 9/11. I write this today in his memory.

“The man who speaks of the enemy / Is the enemy himself.”

                                                                        — Bertolt Brecht

http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mike-friends-blog/if-mosque-isnt-built-no-longer-america

Michael Moore is an Academy-Award winning filmmaker and best-selling author

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2.  Haaretz

 September 9, 2010

Focus U.S.A. / 9-11 bereaved families group: We support efforts to build NYC Islamic center

Interview with Donna Marsh O’Connor, national spokesperson for September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, who lost her pregnant daughter Vanessa in the second tower on 9-11.

http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/focus-u-s-a/focus-u-s-a-9-11-bereaved-families-group-we-support-efforts-to-build-nyc-islamic-center-1.313215

By Natasha Mozgovaya

This remembrance day seems like no other, with the controversy surrounding the Islamic center meant to be built in Lower Manhattan. Why do you support this project?

I am an American citizen, and I know that my family and many American families have the same story – families that came here to escape religious prosecution. It just doesn’t make sense in America that we say no to the Muslim people – to the very people who denounced this horrible tragedy. This is, in our opinion, an act of peace and understanding and reconciliation. That’s what ‘9-11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows’ stands for.

I have been teaching writing and rhetoric for 26 years, and I have been teaching students what rhetoric and racism are and what mechanisms work here – how no one think they are racists and bigots, and still we are nation that has a very bad history regarding racist tendencies and religious intolerance. These Muslim people didn’t perpetrate the crime on 9-11. 19 hijackers backed by a horrible criminal group Al-Qaeda did it, and also the Taliban supported that work, but not Muslim American people.

Did the Islamic center backers contact you asking to intervene on their behalf?

No. We reached out to Daisy Khan (Executive Director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement , wife of Imam Rauf who stands behind the Park 51 initiative), though not right away. But when it was clear that they were being ripped on by a lot of people who we thought were using 9-11 families as a monolithic voice against Daisy Khan – we as an organization reached out to her to say: “Look, we don’t think you are these horrible conquerors, we don’t think that this Islamic cultural center is more than just an attempt to build the facility, to support residents of Lower Manhattan with a swimming pool, with a gym, with a prayer center, with a memorial to 9-11, with all the other things this center was going to be for the use of people in Lower Manhattan.

So we reached out to her to say: “We are sorry you are going through this.” When it got huge and reached a crescendo, Daisy actually tried to call me one day, and I couldn’t talk to her – I was inundated with people from the press calling and asking why we were 9-11 family members and we didn’t agree with other 9-11 family members who basically took the position that if we are going to do this, Allah is going to kill all the Americans.

It was so hyper inflated on the part of other people that should know better that to use the inflated inflammatory diction. I am happy they have the right to do it, just as I am happy that Imam Rauf and Daisy Kahn have the right to build this Islamic cultural center. So frankly, I never had an opportunity to have a conversation with Daisy after things got to a crescendo. But I look forward to having this conversation at some point. I don’t know what necessarily we would say, except for how stunned we are at all of this.

But as for the question – are we collaborators and in coalition with Imam and Daisy Khan – no, we are not. We don’t have to be. But we support the Muslim American efforts to build this facility. And we think it will be really shameful if they’ll be forced to move it elsewhere. I think it says to Muslim American people who are peace-loving people and raising children in this nation that they are another group in this nation that is not valued. I know what pain can be inflicted on groups of people when they have rhetoric shout at them in negative way”.

Did it take time for you to reach this position?

“In part this was always my position. My first response was on 9-11. We were in Canada when the attacks happened, and my husband and I barely made it over the border when they closed the border to Canada. I can’t tell you what it felt like to not be on the American soil during those attacks, and hearing that the Pentagon had been hit. When we got home, I remember thinking absolutely what I think today – we should not have attacked one other country before our government looked into how to keep American commercial airliners from flying into buildings. That was my number one question – how could that have happened?

And we need to really think about American foreign policy. I do not condone acts of terrorism – criminal acts perpetrated against civilians. It’s always horrible, evil and wrong. I don’t think there is one good reason on Earth my child had to be murdered because she went to work. At the same time I don’t think the first response to acts of violence had to be retribution. I think when we defend ourselves, we used to take measures after careful solid thought – some attempts of diplomacy. I am not naïve, I am not a pacifist, I just believe that human beings should not be murdered. And I don’t think the first act after a crime like that should be dropping a bomb”.

What kind of reactions have you received?

No matter how many people in this nation spoke out against the Iraq war, we still went to war. In 2006, when the American people elected a new Senate and Congress, we issued a mandate that we wanted the Iraq war stopped – and still no one heard us. So the response to our call that it wasn’t done in our families or in our children’s names fell on deaf ears.

In the last year we saw rise in attempted domestic terrorism attacks. Do you believe that President Obama was right in his approach of dialogue with the Muslim world?

I don’t think we are ever going to stop these kinds of acts in a world once invoked language becomes part of the conversation culture. To me everything is language, everything is in a linguistic realm. And once those kinds of behaviors have been enacted, they will continue to be enacted until the emotion stops. I don‘t know any individual or government who can stop this. I think it is disingenuous of any political party to claim they are going to keep us safe. Nothing is going to keep us safe until we either run out of hate, or run out of weapons.

I think that’s unfortunate, whatever we can do to stop the hate, the motivation for using the weapons. But we are always going to have criminals and criminal behavior. Law enforcement is something we can get better at, but I think it is really part and parcel of what has happened in the U.S. over the past 9 years – that anything that occurs has political ramifications and political use. And I think that it’s exacerbating the crisis. To me it’s like throwing oil on a fire.

Some people claim that there are legitimate reasons to be wary of Islam. For example, you never hear about Buddhist terrorist attacks.

I am not going to dismiss horror that was perpetrated on our nation on 9-11. I would be the last person to minimize it. My kid is dead and I miss her profoundly. I am not diminishing terrorism. It’s a natural thing to fear that thing happening again and from those same people. But as a nation we had 9 years of “be afraid” from our leaders, when one said: “Let’s get Saddam Hussein.” And we went as a nation and started war in Iraq when Osama Bin-Laden was nowhere near Iraq, looked nothing like Saddam Hussein. So part of this anti-Muslim sentiment comes out of 9 years of this fear mongering. That part of our leaders, it could have been minimized – but it wasn’t.

Since 9-11, I have known a lot of ordinary American people who never would have said “Look what those Muslims have done.” They never would have said that. Now they think they are doing me a favor, as a person who lost a loved one in September 11, by saying, “Look at those terrible people – and they are trying to rub your nose in this Ground Zero mosque victory.” And I’d like to ask them – who told you that? Where you are getting this from? Two months ago, you would never have said that. Why would you say it now? And clearly it’s because of what we’ve been told for 9 years. And it’s wrong.

Do you go to the remembrance ceremonies?

I never go to the ceremony at Ground Zero, because it was used for political purposes for several years, and frankly, it is excruciating to me to see it replayed in this way. I have spent 9-11 speaking out on certain issues, I have spent 9-11 at home with my family, trying to forget that 9-11 is a day when everybody remembers this horrific crime, as most of us live with it every single day of our lives. I have spent it at my daughter’s grave. I will never, however, think that it’s okay to participate in this ceremony until it’s said that the way 9-11 was used at a nation is over. And on that day, I might participate.”

A couple of years ago you urged the government to reopen the investigation.

I will never do it again. It’s over, because I think that we have choice in our lives: to continue to be angry, or to move on with our lives. I have two sons and I want them to see a happy, forgiving and loving mother. And I want them to see me experiencing joy again. And it’s over for me. If American people are comfortable with the fact that 18 minutes of air traffic control didn’t mean that my daughter was saved, and no one wanted a deeper investigation – I am not going to ask any more for it, it’s over for me. It’s better to move on. Whatever happened on that day will be discovered at some point, not in my lifetime. I am done with that, I will never do it again publicly.”

So why do you stay involved in the current project, 9-11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows?

It’s a group of family members that get together and say: there is a different response to violence, than anger, hate and retribution and more war. We don’t believe its advancing the cause for peace and we believe that all people should have the opportunity to live in peace.

Some 9-11 first responders claim that they feel abandoned.

When congress is debating whether or not 9-11 first responders – and some of them weren’t even from NY, they came from all over the country – it was months digging through the pile. How we could ever say, “We are going to think whether or not to pay for your medical expenses?” That it mind boggling. They were abandoned. They are not me, they are not my family, but I feel like they singlehandedly, in many cases, tried to save my daughter, that’s my feeling for them. They are heroic, and America has abandoned them – they shouldn’t go and ask for help. We should have been there with open arms for them.

Do you feel safe in today’s America?

There are so many threats. I guess I am afraid right now of a kind of hate that is growing, where political leaders are capitalizing on our fears. And I actually had a conversation on radio yesterday with a woman named Hedy Epstein, who is a Holocaust survivor – and her thinking about what is happening around Ground Zero and the way it’s being exploited, the way terrorism is being exploited by some people for political reasons. Her feeling was that there was a kind of rampant fear and intolerance running through Germany before Hitler came to power. And I am worried that when and if fascism comes here, we won’t even have resources to recognize it before it’s full blown – and there won’t be allies to save us.

I think sometimes we all get caught up in what acts of war and aggression ought to be – we forget to stop and think of what are the logical consequences of maintaining this level of hostility. I am one of those people trying to say simply, “Can we just take a look and understand that the logical consequences are dire?” And so, for me, the only comfort is to talk to people like Hedy Epstein who say, “The biggest danger, the biggest threat to America is that we will scare ourselves into fascism, or into war. That is, I think, the biggest danger here.

This story is by:

 Natasha Mozgovaya

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3.  3. [forwarded by Edward Kent]

Posted by Linda Milazzo

September 10, 2010

http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2010/09/10/los-angeles-launches-nations-first-israel-divestment-campaign/ [includes 2 min. video of the event]

Los Angeles Launches Nation’s First Israel Divestment Campaign

On April 1, 2010, in a no-holds-barred interview with the Christian Science Monitor, Israeli peacemaker Jonathan Ben Artzi, a PhD candidate at Brown University and nephew to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, made clear his belief that equality and social justice will prevail in Israel when the government and people of the United States adopt a no-tolerance stance toward Israel’s abuse of Palestinians. Ben Artzi, whose family has lived in the region for nine generations, and who’s seen a lifetime of Israel’s abuse of Palestinians, declared:

“Sometimes it takes a good friend to tell you when enough is enough. As they did with South Africa two decades ago, concerned citizens across the US can make a difference by encouraging Washington to get the message to Israel that this cannot continue.”

Jonathan’s reference to South Africa is a testament to the powerful roll played by valiant Americans who participated in protests, boycotts and divestment actions nationwide, most between 1984 and 1989, which ultimately forced the white minority South African government to relinquish control over its oppressed Black majority.

Ben Artzi, a man of conscience and compassion, served 18 months in prison for refusing his mandatory service in Israel’s military. Ben Artzi goes on to say: 

“If Americans truly are our friends, they should shake us up and take away the keys, because right now we are driving drunk, and without this wake-up call, we will soon find ourselves in the ditch of an undemocratic, doomed state.”

This week, Jonathan Ben Artzi should be pleased to know that a concerned and energized coalition of Americans has heeded the call to rescue out of control Israel from driving deeper into its ditch.

On Wednesday, September 8th, at a noon press conference in Los Angeles in front of the Israeli Consulate, the California Israel Divestment Campaign, a culturally diverse group of compassionate Americans announced the launch of California ballot initiative 10-0020 to require public employee systems to divest from certain business activities in Israel. In its first official announcement, the California Israel Divestment Campaign (IDC) delivered the following explanation:

“Although California has adopted policies requiring divestment from Sudan, Iran and other nations, this is the first ballot measure in the nation aimed at changing Israeli policies through divestment by State agencies. It directs California’s large public employee and teacher pension funds to be consistent with their responsible investing policies and to divest from companies that violate the human rights of Palestinians.

The description provided by the office of the Attorney General when it approved the measure for circulation says that the initiative “prohibits state retirement funds from investing in companies engaged in certain business activities in Israel.”

According to Chris Yatooma, the official proponent of the initiative, “Our government has done nothing to end Israel’s brutal occupation and violation of internationally recognized human rights, UN Resolutions and the Geneva Conventions.” In fact, as campaign organizer Yael Korin, notes, “our tax dollars now help fund these violations of human rights to the tune of more than $3 billion a year in grants, adding up to a staggering $106 billion over the past five decades.”

“California retirement funds have their own disturbing record,” said local campaign organizer Sherna Gluck, a member of the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS). “Our public retirement systems have more than $1.5 billion invested in at least eight companies that provide war materials and services used in violation of internationally recognized human rights, including support for the illegal Israeli settlements and the “Separation Wall.”

For over four decades, since the 1967 Six Day War, propagandized as a victorious miracle on par with David v. Goliath, Americans have ingested a distorted media diet of Israelis portrayed as victims and Palestinians portrayed as villains. But with the launch of domestic and international outlets for independent journalism and new media, the truth is now accessible. More and more Americans have come to realize that Israelis are the oppressors and Palestinians are the oppressed. In addition, more and more Americans are learning that the relationship between the United States and Israel is not really in America’s best interests – a previously untenable concept.

What is occurring as a result of Americans’ new knowledge is their widespread anger over being misled for so long. Many Americans, myself included, feel a sense of guilt at being unwitting pawns in Israel’s forty year occupation and systematic torture, deprivation, and dare I say, ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Many Americans are further incensed that our legislators have voted annually to award Israel, a wealthy and thriving nation, 3 billion of our tax dollars which go directly into its military.

Fortunately there are ways to fight back against this tyranny in which we Americans have been unwitting pawns. The launch of the California Israel Divestment Campaign is a powerful weapon to that end. Divestment worked well in defeating apartheid in South Africa. Indeed, South Africa’s own Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a principal endorser of this new Israel Divestment Campaign, said this of the campaign on August 22nd:

“We defeated apartheid nonviolently because the international community agreed to support the disinvestment in apartheid campaign. A similar campaign can help to bring peace in the Middle East and do so nonviolently.”

This much beloved Nobel Laureate is correct. As is Nobel Laureate and Belfast peacemaker, Mairead Maguire, who is also an endorser.

Each day the momentum is building for this divestment campaign. The list of individuals and organizations that support this effort, which requires the state public retirement funds (PERS and STRS) to divest from companies that provide products or services contributing to the construction or maintenance of Israeli settlements and/or the Separation Wall in the Palestinian Territories; and/or military supplies, equipment and services to the State of Israel that are used by the military and/or police in violation of internationally recognized human rights, as determined by the UN and NGOS, is growing ever larger. And this is just the beginning. This is the just the first divestment launch in California. Similar launches in other California cities are soon to come.

Even though the goal to divest is one of justice and human rights, it will take much hard work to achieve. At least 434,000 registered California voters must sign a petition to qualify the measure for the statewide ballot. Petitions should be ready for signature gathering in mid-September 2010, after which there will be five months to gather the required signatures. If the requisite number of signatures is gathered, the initiative will appear on the next statewide ballot after March, 2011.

If a majority of voters support the measure, it becomes California law and the public retirement systems in California will have to sell their stocks (divest) in those companies that provide goods and services to Israel which violate UN Resolutions, the Geneva Conventions, and international rules of human rights. It is important to note that the Initiative will in no way jeopardize the pension benefits of PERS and STRS members.

California is frequently the national leader. With this divestment campaign, Californians are poised to spark a state-by-state divestiture movement to parallel the anti-Apartheid campaign that helped defeat the oppressive rule in South Africa. To participate, please visit here. If you’re in Southern California, please email here.

To underscore the passion and humanity of the Israel Divestment Campaign, Marcy Winograd, former candidate for California’s 36th Congressional District, offers this personal and poignant explanation for her own participation:

“Today I lend my name and my support to a crucial ballot measure calling for divestiture in companies that aid the Israeli occupation of Palestine and perpetuate the brutal blockade of over a million people, half of them children, in the ever-more crowded Gaza strip.

As a Jewish woman of conscience, as a teacher who contributes to the California State Teacher Retirement System, I do not want my name, nor the fruits of my labor supporting companies that collude with the government of Israel to steal Palestinian land, bulldoze Palestinian homes,

or imprison those in Gaza routinely denied access to clean water and medicine.

Now is the time for Jews, Christians, Muslims, and all believers, be they believers in a higher power or simply in the power of love, to stand for human rights and to demand that our public institutions, like CALSTRS and CALPRS, sell stock in corporations that profit off of misery in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza — making us all less safe.

I urge my fellow teachers to echo my call. Let us divest of our stock in Caterpillar, which makes bullet proof tractors that slice Palestinian homes to ribbons in minutes. Let us divest of General Electric that builds the weapons that terrorize the next generation in Gaza. Let us give the people of our great golden state, California, an opportunity to promote peace by saying NO to companies involved in ever-expanding settlements that erase the beautiful olive trees of Palestine, only to generate more hatred.

In the name of peace, of dignity, of equal rights, let us collect enough signatures to put this measure on the ballot and join a global movement calling for divestiture.

Thank you, my friends, for your courage.”

Linda Milazzo is Managing Editor of OpedNews, a participatory journalist, and educator. Since 1974, she has divided her time between the entertainment industry, government organizations, community development projects, and educational programs.Linda began her writing career 35 years ago in advertising and promotions. From 1976 to 1989, she operated an independent public relations service providing specialty writing for individual and corporate clients. A socio-political activist since the Vietnam war, Linda has focused on political writing since G. W. Bush first threatened Iraq. Her essays, letters and commentaries have appeared in domestic and international journals, newspapers and magazines. She’s an educator and creator of a writers’ program she’s taught privately and in public schools.Linda currently facilitates an advocacy writing workshop and is developing an advocacy writing program to be implemented in public and private educational institutions and in community based organizations. She’s a regular contributor to numerous high profile and highly respected news and opinion websites.

http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2010/09/10/los-angeles-launches-nations-first-israel-divestment-campaign/

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4.  The Guardian,

September 8, 2010

Israel Israeli soldier jailed for killing British activist Tom Hurndall released early

Tasyir Hayb freed from prison with two years remaining on his eight-year sentence for Briton’s manslaughter in Gaza in 2003

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/08/israeli-soldier-released-tom-hurndall

Rachel Shabi

Tom Hurndall was shot in the head by Israeli soldier Taysir Hayb in 2003 as he helped Palestinian children cross a street in Gaza. The Israeli soldier convicted of killing British activist Tom Hurndall was released from prison today, two years before completing his sentence.

Tasyir Hayb was found guilty of manslaughter in 2005, when a military court found he had violated orders. He was also convicted him of obstruction of justice and false testimony. He has served six years of his eight-year sentence.

Hurndall, then 22, was shot in the head in April 2003 while he was helping Palestinian children cross a street in Rafah, in the Gaza strip. He had been filming with the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Hurndall fell into a coma and died the following year.

According to Israeli newspapers, the military prosecution opposed Hayb’s early release, fearing it would damage Israel’s relations with the UK. But a military committee overruled this last month, arguing that Hayb, 27, had been sufficiently rehabilitated.

Tom’s mother, Jocelyn, today said: “From the moment that Tom was shot, we said it wasn’t about the soldier, who is a small part of the machinery, but about the responsibility of the Israeli army and its lack of accountability over civilian killings. To say that the soldier has reformed is to miss the point – the British government needs to hold Israel accountable for its actions.”

Hayb’s release comes as the case against the Israeli state filed by the parents of Rachel Corrie, the American activist killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in Rafah the month before Hurndall was shot, is reconvened in Israel.

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5. [forwarded by David McReynolds]

 Gaza: For Top Israeli General War Is the Only Option

Al-Ahram (Cairo)

September 2-8, 2010

Galant, Why?

Israel’s new prospective army chief of staff is a man who makes war his

only option

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2010/1014/re3.htm

by Saleh Al-Naami

Aisha Al-Rahhal, 49, walked the three- kilometre length of the road

connecting Al-Maghazi Refugee Camp in the centre of Gaza and the cemetery

on the eastern border of Al-Masdar Village, south of the camp, on

Thursday, to recite Quran verses at the gravesite of her husband Hassan.

Aisha does this every Thursday since Hassan was killed on the first day of

the last war on Gaza.

Despite the passage of time, there is no consolation for Aisha who still

remembers how Hassan died. On the morning of 28 December 2008, Hassan

headed to the police station in the Central District in Gaza to take care

of business pertaining to his shop in Al-Maghazi, returning home as body

parts after he was killed when a jet plane dropped two bombs, each

weighing one tonne, on the police headquarters. Hassan died, as did

another 70 people with hundreds more injured.

Like other women in Gaza who have lost their husbands, children, brothers

and loved ones, Aisha is not aware of the controversy that erupted when

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak nominated Yoav Galant, the current

head of the Gaza Regional Division in the Israeli Army’s Southern Command,

for the post of Armed Forces chief of staff. These widows do not know that

their personal tragedies are the main reason why Galant was nominated for

the top post.

Barak and Israeli public opinion believe that the war that resulted in the

death of 1,500 people, 80 per cent of whom were civilian, was the measure

of “success” of the war that Galant led in the Gaza Strip, especially that

it came at the heels of a huge failure for the Israeli army in the second

war on Lebanon, which extensively weakened Israel’s power of deterrence.

In hindsight, four years after the war on Lebanon and two years after the

war on Gaza, the Israeli army now believes the former was a tactical

defeat for Israel but a strategic victory. The latter, however, was a

tactical success but a strategic failure because of Israel’s fall from

grace in the eyes of the international community at the end of the war.

That is how Amir Aron, military commentator for Haaretz newspaper, put it.

It is true that the war on Gaza raised Galant’s standing in the eyes of

decision makers in Israel, especially Barak who is also the leader of the

Labour Party. But a closer look quickly reveals that choosing Galant is a

continuation of a trend among political circles and public opinion in

Israel when choosing the army’s chief of staff.

Galant is zealous about using force and prefers the military option and

escalation to any other choice. These tendencies have increased during

Galant’s military career. He was an officer and commander of a navy

commando unit, or Force 13, which is generally responsible for operations

outside Israel, whether assassinations or intelligence information

gathering, or boat searches amid sea on the hunt for vessels transporting

weapons to resistance movements or parties which Israel considers hostile.

His superiors noticed more and more that the military option had become

the modus operandi for Galant, and reassigned him to lead military

operations against Palestinians in the first Intifada in the West Bank.

Later, he headed the Armoured Division. He was admired by former Israeli

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who made him his military secretary during the

second Intifada, which is a sensitive rank in the Israeli Army since the

military secretary is privy to top-secret information. Galant was then

promoted to major general.

After that, Galant became commander of the Southern Command, which means

he leads the battle with resistance groups in the Gaza Strip. He champions

the notion that any action by Palestinian resistance movements in Gaza

should be confronted with a much larger reaction. This explains the

massive destruction resulting from army operations under the leadership of

Galant, after the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and in response

to attacks by locally made missiles launched by the Palestinian

resistance.

Galant held nothing back during the war on Gaza, which is indisputably the

most criminal offensive that the Palestinians have encountered in Gaza.

Judge Goldstone’s Report detailed many massacres that Galant ordered

during the war, most ferociously bombing the home where dozens of the

Al-Samuni family sought refuge in Al-Zeitoun district in southern Gaza,

where they were all killed. Galant also ordered the bombing of the mosque

of Ibrahim Al-Maqadma in the town of Beit Lahia, a massacre that killed

and maimed tens of worshippers.

But Galant has also failed in a number of missions, such as Al-Ansariya

Operation in 1994 when he was a navy commando. Galant had planned the

assassination of a leading figure in Hizbullah in the village of

Al-Ansariya in southern Lebanon. The group that went to the village were

ambushed by Hizbullah, and 12 of the 15 would-be assassins were killed and

the remaining three injured. The success of Hizbullah’s ambush tarnished

Galant’s reputation, but did not prevent his progress and promotion in the

military.

Observers in Israel agree that one of Galant’s “positive attributes” in

the eyes of political circles in Israel is his tendency to align his

battlefield plans with the positions of the political elite. They believe

that this is the secret behind the special relationship between Galant and

Sharon, and Galant and Barak. Many believe this advantage is critical to

the ongoing debate about Israel’s position regarding Iran’s nuclear

programme.

The general impression in Israel is that current Armed Forces Chief of

Staff Gabi Ashkenazi is taking a contrary position to that of Barak and

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, by being apprehensive about any

proposal to bomb Iranian nuclear installations. Ashkenazi is believed

influenced by the contacts he has with US military leaders, who believe

that any Israeli attack on an Iranian nuclear installation would not serve

US interests in the region. In fact, such an attack could drag the US

administration further into the Middle East quagmire at a time when US

President Barack Obama is working to limit the damage done from

involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. This also comes at a time when the US

is opening new fronts in Yemen, Somalia and others areas.

The general belief in Tel Aviv is that Galant will champion any Israeli

military operation against Iranian nuclear targets, although there are

many red flags that should prevent Israel from attempting a military move

against Iran. All signs indicate that if Tel Aviv decides to attack

Iranian nuclear installations, Galant will be the commander in charge of

carrying out the mission as the Armed Forces chief of staff.

No doubt, naming Galant to the top post will trigger a rash of

resignations in the army. It is almost certain that the incumbent,

Ashkenazi, will bring forward his date of retirement, as well his deputy

Benny Ganz, the head of the Northern Command Znakov, and the head of

Central Command Avi Mizrahi. Accordingly, the majority of the leaders of

the army will resign shortly after Galant is appointed to his new post. In

the meantime, it is rumoured that the leaders of the major intelligence

apparatus will be replaced soon, including Mossad Chief Meir Dagan, Shin

Bet Director Yuval Diskin and the head of military intelligence Amos

Yadlin. This would mean that a new security leadership would take over the

reins of power in Israel.

According to several security assessments in Israel, this development will

not be a good one for Israel on the eve of Tel Aviv taking several

critical decisions on a number of issues, including the Iranian nuclear

issue, tensions with Hizbullah, and the southern front in the Gaza Strip

where there is a need for experienced security leadership.

Fate has played an important role in propelling Galant to this post. He

left the army five years after being drafted, and became a stonemason in

Alaska. He intended to become a lumber merchant but his business failed,

so he returned to the army after he was unsuccessful in civilian life.

While Galant has been mostly victorious in his career, success at the

beginning does not guarantee triumph at the end. Expecting too much from

Galant as the chief of staff based only on the large number of operations

during his army service is erroneous. His ability to lead and direct

immense military operations, take difficult decisions in real time, in

complicated circumstances, has not been tested. 

Leading the most powerful army in the region in a war of annihilation

against Palestinian civilians in Gaza should not be a measure to judge

this military commander or any other. Galant’s fate may not be any

different from that of Dan Halutz who had a remarkable record in aerial

attacks targeting many Arab capitals, which was highly praised by decision

makers in Israel. However, Halutz failed miserably by choosing to go to

war again in Lebanon.

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