Category Archives: Elections

A wanderer

“Wanderer, there is no path,

the path is made by walking.”

— Antonio Machado

antonio-machado

Antonio Machado (1875 – 1939) was a Spanish poet

An American friend sent me these words a few days ago, and I’ve been mulling them over ever since. Undoubtedly, they reminded her of my elusive pilgrimage. I’ve been “on the road again” and walking for the past 7 years.

I always seem to be on the move, with my ultimate destination being Gaza. I certainly don’t have a well-defined plan or path which I suspect causes some concern or consternation to family and friends watching my journey.

Truth-be-told, I wake up in sweats some nights wondering if I’m on the path I’m suppose to be on, or have I lost my way? I never expected to be *here* when I turned 65.

Exactly where am I?

It doesn’t matter where I lay my head down tonight. What matters are my actions today, the people I’m meeting, the conversations I’m having, and the spirit I’m sharing with others.

It doesn’t matter what things are packed in my suitcase, or what ticket I have for my next travel plans.  What matters is that I travel as lightly as possible (for practical and spiritual reasons) and I travel safely, responsibly and with a good heart towards my fellow passengers.

Machado’s words can ring with different meanings for different people I suppose, but taking them literally, I think I’ve discovered the root of my “obsessiveness” over the Palestinians in Gaza. (Not my word, but the word of family and friends who have observed my attention directed towards Gaza over the past 5+ years.)

checkpoint

Israeli checkpoint for Palestinians posted by Husam Jubran on Facebook

Palestinian men, women and children in Gaza have been removed from life’s path through no fault of their own except for casting a vote for Hamas in 2006. Shortly thereafter, the government of Israel proclaimed Hamas a terrorist organization (probably as stunned by Hamas’ victory as Americans were shocked by Trump’s victory in 2016) and locked down the Gaza Strip in a suffocating siege and blockade that has tightened considerably year-by-year.

“You voted for the wrong guy!”

“We refuse to talk or engage with your elected leaders.”

“If we squeeze you tight enough, you’ll kick Hamas out.” 

“We believe you’re all terrorists, and this blockade is a legitimate security measure.”

Israel’s blockade has disrupted the lives of Palestinian students trying to travel a path towards their academic studies abroad; it’s prevented Palestinian scholars from traveling abroad to accept international awards; it’s stopped Palestinian poets and artists from presenting their talents to audiences overseas; it’s kept Palestinian soccer players from competing in FIFA tournaments; and it’s killed Palestinian men, women and children who were denied permission to travel outside of Gaza for life-saving treatment because they were deemed a security risk.

I know people personally in each of these categories. I’m sure there are many more categories.

Great_March_of_Return_2016-While there are many reasons why the state of Israel should be brought before the International Criminal Court in The Hague and prosecuted for war crimes, I believe Israel’s decision to prevent men, women and children in Gaza from following their path, and denying them their right to travel, is the most heinous of all of Israel’s crimes, and that government must be held accountable.

 Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts that:

  • a citizen of a state in which that citizen is present has the liberty to travel, reside in, and/or work in any part of the state where one pleases within the limits of respect for the liberty and rights of others,

  • and that a citizen also has the right to leave any country, including his or her own, and to return to his or her country at any time.

Israeli officials may argue that Palestinians aren’t citizens of Israel, and certainly they don’t have a state of their own to which they can claim citizenship, and so Article 13 doesn’t apply to the 2 million Palestinians in Gaza.

Israel and the UN Special Rapporteur for Palestine should go head-to-head with their arguments on that issue before a U.N. body.  Keeping innocent civilians locked up in the world’s largest open air prison with no due process has turned the State of Israel into a putrified petrie dish. The experiment is rotting Israel from the inside out.

Day 1 Lora shadow

“Wanderer, there is no path,

the path is made by walking.”

— Antonio Machado

One day every Palestinian in Gaza will walk their path right back to the homes and villages from which they were forcibly removed 70 years ago. Until that day, they’re teaching all of us by the humanity they model for us day after day.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Elections, Gaza, Hamas, Islam, Israel, nonviolent resistance, Peaceful, Spiritual - Religion, Uncategorized

Israeli/Palestinian Conflict 2005 – 2017

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A well-informed friend (neither Palestinian nor Israeli) recently prepared this timeline of key events during the past 12 years with a particular focus on Gaza. He wishes to remain anonymous at this time, but I am very grateful for his time and effort in pulling this timeline together.  Its value is not only the timeline’s comprehensive treatment but also its impartiality.

2005

 

Government of Israel (GOI) starts implementation of the so-called “Disengagement Plan”, which consists of the voluntary and unilateral withdrawal from all military bases and soldiers from the Gaza Strip, as well as the dismantling of the 21 Jewish settlements located within the Strip, being Gush Katif the largest of all. The “Disengagement Plan” had been designed by the Prime Minister at the time, Ariel Sharon.

 

GOI finishes the implementation of the “Disengagement Plan” successfully. Although facing some resistance from the young and more radical Jewish settlers there was no armed violence at all (unlike when Israel dismantled the settlement of Yamit in the Sinai Peninsula in compliance with the Camp David Accords from 1978). From there on, there has been no permanent Israeli presence or jurisdiction in Gaza. However, Israel retained control of certain elements, such as airspace, sea and borders, leading to an ongoing dispute as to whether Gaza is still “occupied territory” or not.

 

US Secretary of State Condolezza Rice visits Israel for the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Itzaak Rabin and mediates the “Agreement on Movement and Access” to facilitate the reopening of the Rafah Crossing (that connects the Strip to Egypt, and from there to the rest of the world) under the management of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and the supervision of European border monitors. Rafah Crossing is reopened and becomes the first border crossing ever managed by the Palestinians (before they were in the hands of the Ottoman Empire, British Mandate, Egypt and Israel).

 

2006

 

The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas (which is registered in the list of terrorist organizations of both the United States and the EU) unexpectedly wins a clear majority in the elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council (Parliament), after Fatah can’t politically sell the “Disengagement” as its own achievement through negotiations due to its unilateral character. The PNA´s bilateral relations with Israel deteriorate a lot, even though its President Mahmoud Abbas, remains a member of the secular party Fatah.

 

Following a Gaza beach blast, in which seven members of the same family were killed, the armed wing of Hamas called off its 16-month-old truce. Although GOI claimed its Army was shelling 250 mts away from the family’s location; Palestinians claimed that the explosion was Israeli responsibility. An Israeli internal investigation report claimed the blast was most likely caused by an unexploded munition buried in the sand and not by shelling. This investigation was criticized by human rights organizations.

 

After crossing the border the Gaza Strip into Israel in the South, the Palestinian “popular Resistance Committees” attacked an Israeli Army post, killing 2 soldiers, injuring 4 and capturing Corporal Gilad Shalit. GOI orders the Army to launch military operation “Summer Rains”. The kidnapping of Shalit leads to several collective punishment measures against the Strip, among them the reduction of the fishing space and the regular closure of the Rafah Crossing. This is considered to be the first stage of the blockade of the Strip.

 

Second Lebanon War starts after Shiite militia Hezbollah members infiltrated Israel in a cross-border raid, captured two soldiers and killed three others. Israel attempted to rescue the captured, and five more soldiers were killed. Israeli Army responded, attacking Lebanon from earth, air and sea. The conflict resulted in the deaths of 1,191 Lebanese people and 165 Israelis. Simultaneously, the Army launched a counter-offensive to deprive cover to militants firing rockets into from Gaza, killing 23 Palestinians.

 

A UN study declared the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip “intolerable”, with 75% of the population dependent on food aid, and an estimated 80% of the population living below the poverty line. The Palestinian economy had largely relied on Western aid and revenues, which had been frozen since Hamas’s victory in the legislative elections.

 

Brokered by Egyptian mediators, Fatah reached a deal to end fighting between the Hamas and Fatah factions, both groups agreeing to refrain from acts that raise tensions and committing themselves to dialogue to resolve differences. Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas brushed off comments by President Mahmoud Abbas, head of Fatah, who indicated he could dismiss the Hamas-led cabinet. Abbas unsuccessfully urged Hamas to accept international calls to renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist.

 

2007

 

Fatah-Hamas negotiations in Mecca (Saudi Arabia) produced an agreement on a Palestinian national unity government.

 

After the increasing of intra-governmental tensions within the PNA Hamas launches an strike against Fatah loyalists in Gaza, taking control of all the Strip within a few days of intense fighting. Since then the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have remained fragmented, both geographically and politically.

 

US Administration under George W. Bush promoted the Annapolis Conference, a peace conference marked the first time a two-State solution was articulated as the mutually agreed-upon outline for addressing the conflict. The conference ended with the issuing of a joint statement from all parties.

 

2008

 

Israeli Army launches Operation “Hot Winter” in response to rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. The operation resulted in 112 Palestinians and three Israelis being killed.

 

Israeli Army raids the Gaza Strip without a clear and direct reason for it, killing six members of Hamas. Hamas cancels the truce agreement that it had respected most of time. The armed wing of Hamas responds with rocket attacks on southern Israel.

 

Israeli Army launches Operation “Cast Lead”, a full-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip.

 

2009

 

Operation “Cast Lead” continues until January 18. After 22 days of fighting, Israel and Hamas each declared separate unilateral ceasefires. Casualties of the so-called “first Gaza War” are disputed. According to Hamas, they included as many as 1,417 Palestinians including as many as 926 civilians. According to Israeli Army, 1,166 Palestinians were killed, and 295 were non-combatants. “Cast Lead” is criticized by the Goldstone Report under the auspices of the UN.

 

Although Kadima wins the legislative elections its candidate for Prime Minister, Tzipi Livni, doesn´t get enough support in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) and the candidate of the Likud party Benjamion Netanyahu is appointed as new Prime Minister.

 

2010

 

Turkish and international activists of the “Freedom Flotilla” try to break Israel’s naval blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza, but were intercepted by the Israeli Army. When the Israeli naval commandos boarded the main ship (Mavi Marmara) the activists attacked them with knives and metal rods. 9 Turkish activists are shot dead after a quite negligent crisis management by GOI.

 

U.S. launches direct negotiations between GOI and PNA in Washington D.C.

 

GOI decides not to extend the construction moratorium in the settlements of the West Bank that had been agreed by the Obama Administration as a confidence-building measure with the PNA. A second round of Middle East peace talks between GPI and PNA takes place in Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt).

 

2011

 

Two young Palestinians with no previous security offenses infiltrate the settlement of Itamar and murder five members of the same family in their beds. This incident creates a lot of mistrust on the Israeli public opinion about re-launching the Peace Process.

 

Egyptian and Palestinian militants perpetrate a cross-border attack in southern Israel and killed 8 Israelis, 2 soldiers and 6 civilians. 40 injured. 5 Egyptian soldiers are also killed. This incident becomes an example of the militarization process and chaos in the Sinai Peninsula during the “Arab spring” taking place in Egypt.

 

Palestine applies to the UN General Assembly for recognition of Palestine statehood, calling it a “Palestine Spring”.

 

Hamas liberates soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for the liberation of 1.000 Palestinian prisoners (with very diverse backgrounds) by Israel.

 

Palestine wins membership in UNESCO while UN vote on statehood is put on hold. In the Security Council, Palestine gets no support from France and UK while US threatens to veto it.

 

2012

 

Gaza militants launch over 300 rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel, wounding 23 civilians. Israeli Army retaliates with air strikes on Gaza targets, killing 22 militants and 4 civilians.

 

Israeli Army lunches Operation “Pillar of Defense” after perpetrating a “targeted killing” against Hamas´ armed wing head, Ahmed Jabari. Gaza officials said 133 Palestinians had been killed in the conflict of whom 79 were militants, 53 civilians and 1 policeman. Around 840 Palestinians are wounded. Hamas fires over 1,000 rockets at southern Israel, killing 6.

 

UN General Assembly upgrades Palestine to “non-member observer State” status in the United Nations, was adopted by the 67th session of the UNGA, coinciding with the celebration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinians People. Vote: For: 138; Abs.: 41 Against: 9.

 

In response to the UN approving the Palestinian UN bid for non-member observer state status, GOI announces the approval of building of housing units in the E1 Area that connects Jerusalem and Israel settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, while effectively cutting the West Bank in two pieces.

 

2013

 

Likud party wins the legislative elections in coalition with Israel Beitenu and Benjamin Netanyahu is re-elected as Prime Minister.

 

2014

 

Three Israeli youngsters are kidnapped and assassinated while hitchhiking home from their religious schools in settlements on the West Bank. GOI blames the assassination on Hamas, and claims it was ordered by one of its leaders in exile, Salah Al Arouri, who lives in Turkey.

 

Israeli Army rounds up more than 150 Palestinians, including Parliament speaker Abdel Aziz Dweik and several members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (who are supposed to enjoy Parliamentary immunity).

 

Israel Air Force launches dozens of air strikes across the Gaza Strip overnight, just hours after the bodies of three abducted Israeli teenagers were found in a shallow grave near the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Following the discovery of the bodies, Netanyahu issues a statement once again blaming Hamas. Hamas denies involvement.

 

In retaliation to the abduction of the 3 Israeli teenagers, 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir is grabbed off the street after leaving his home in Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhood of Shuafat, is beaten up and burnt alive, provoking a wave of riots in East Jerusalem.

 

Israeli Army launches Operation “Protective Edge” against the Gaza Strip. More than 2,200 Gazans are killed and 10,000 injured –from them around 70% civilians according to the UN– after almost two months of shelling from earth, air and sea. 73 Israelis get killed, from them 66 soldiers and 7 civilians. This “third Gaza war” becomes the most lethal and destructive of all military operations launched by the Israeli Army against the Gaza Strip.

 

The international community, under the auspices of Egypt and Norway, celebrates a donor Conference for Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. The PNA presents its National Early Recovery and Reconstruction Plan, for which so far has not even 50% of the funding that was pledged by the donors at the Cairo Conference from 12 October 2014.

 

2015

 

Likud Party wins the early elections and Benjamin Netanyahu gets reelected as Prime Minister for his third term in a row and fourth term altogether (at the end of his current mandate he will become Israel´s longest serving head of Government). The ruling coalition becomes Israel´s most right-wing Government ever.

 

All UN agencies release a joint report under the name of “Gaza 2020” stating that if current trends remain (population growth, lack of drinking water, lack of natural resources, energy restrictions, etc.) the Gaza Strip will be uninhabitable by 2020.

 

The recurrent provocations by right-wing Members of the Knesset visiting the Haram Al Sharif in the old city of Jerusalem (third most important religious site for Islam, but also the most important for Judaism, as it is believed to be the site of the Temple Mount, where both Jewish Temples were erected before their destruction leads to the so-called “Knife Intifada” (sequence of attacks with knives against Israeli policemen and civilians).

 

2016

 

After several months of quiet the Jewish High Holiday season (New Year, Yom Kippur, Sukkot) leads to more visits to the Temple Mount by right-wing members of Knesset and even a couple Government ministers, provoking more riots and turmoil in Jerusalem.

 

2017

 

Yahya Sinwar replaces Ismael Haniye as head of Hamas for the Gaza Strip. Haniye replaces Khaled Meshal as head of the Political Office of Hamas in exile.

 

Three young Israeli Arabs manage to smuggle fire arms into the Haram Al Sharif and kill two Israeli Policemen at one of the entrances. GOI installs metal detectors and CCTV cameras at different entrances to the Holy Explanade, detonating a new wave of riots. After the killing of two Jordanian citizens by an Israeli security guard in Amman (Jordan) GOI finds the way out of the crisis, removing the detectors and the cameras after two weeks of violence.

 

Hamas announces it will allow the PNA to retake over some ministries, executing effective control over them and cancelling the “administrative committee” it had created last April after the PNA cancelled the payments for fuel (stopping the power station in Nuseirat) and reducing the payments for electricity (that it buys from Israel). It also announces that the Ramallah Government lead by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah can call for both legislative and presidential elections (the Legislative Council doesn´t work since 2007 and President Abbas rules by decree since 2010 as his mandate expired) creating new expectations for national reconciliation.

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Filed under Elections, Gaza, Hamas, IDF, Israel, Israel Defense Forces, Politics, Settlers

Elections matter – own it!

Ballot-Box

The Palestinians are struggling to hold local municipal elections which appear to be delayed (derailed?) once again. The Washington Post had an excellent analysis yesterday of the situation.

I really feel for the Palestinians who’ve been living under Israel’s boot since 1947. The average Palestinian (especially those living in Gaza) has learned from harsh experience that he can’t protest the Israeli occupation either violently or peacefully, can’t protest against Palestinian leadership (either Fatah or Hamas), can’t protest against America’s complicity in Israel’s military offensives, can’t protest one little twit, and can’t even cast a vote.  I don’t think they’ve had a national or local election in more than 10 years.

So my bellyache about the current Presidential election in the U.S. pales in comparison. But I’m bitching nevertheless.

I explained why I’m not voting for the lesser of two evils about a month ago. Nothing has changed in the political landscape or with the candidates’ positions to change my opinion. As the drumbeat gets louder, the accusations become more strident. “Either vote for Hillary, or own your responsibility in her defeat.”

My response: The DNC needs to own its reprehensible tactics to undermine Bernie Sanders’ campaign.  The Superdelegates need to own their disgraceful and undemocratic action to tip the scales in Hillary’s favor during the primary. They not only did a huge disfavor to Sanders and to every Democrat who voted, but they put poor Hillary in the position where she is today – fighting for her political life. Finally, Hillary needs to own the results of this election. This is her election to lose. Own it folks!

A friend penned the following response to a Clinton supporter which captures my sentiments, and so I share it verbatim.  Thank you to Mike Merryman-Lotze.

“As someone who argues for a pragmatic approach to voting while pushing for more radical change I find your take on this more than troubling. The arguments that you have put forward … are perhaps the least effective and most offensive arguments that a Clinton supporter can put forward to someone who questions her from the left.

“Your argument has primarily been that it is those on the left who will be to blame if Trump wins and we must therefore vote for Clinton. This isn’t an argument that shows any real concern for the actual policy considerations that lead many of us to see Clinton as problematic. It is blackmail based on fear and that is what continues to push many away from Clinton. That is the approach that Clinton and her camp have really taken towards many on the left. That is a big middle finger to everyone who has real concerns about the mainstream positions of the democratic party.

“While Clinton may be an incredibly qualified candidate on paper, her actual policy positions are not things that many of us find inspiring. Her foreign policy is right wing and militaristic and her domestic policy is solid middle of the road, right of Obama. Yes, she has moved somewhat to the left on some domestic issues as a result of Sanders, but it is hard to take those moves really seriously.

“The bigger issue is that opposition isn’t simply a rejection of Clinton as an individual. It comes as a result of general disillusionment by many with Democratic policies which maintain the status quo. Obama didn’t bring change we can believe in. While he did bring incremental change domestically and I respect that, he maintained a deeply problematic and militarized foreign policy.

“Clinton and mainstream Democratic policy positions just don’t do it for many of us and saying that we must vote out of fear or that those of us on the left must own right wing movements in the election is incredibly insulting. If Clinton wants votes she and the Democratic party as a whole must appeal to the left. They simply have not done that up until this point. This election really is theirs to lose and if it is lost, it is the Democratic party and those who vote for an unqualified right wing nut who will need to own that reality.”   — Mike Merryman-Lotze

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Filed under Elections, People, Uncategorized, US Policy

Why I won’t vote for the lesser of two evils

A professional colleague/friend warned me today …

“Try explaining to your children why you didn’t vote for Clinton if el Trumpo gets elected. If you believe that it doesn’t make a difference if he gets elected and appoints one or more Clarence Thomas types to SCOTUS you don’t really care about the future. You of all people should recognize the potential for long-term damage that POTUS can do by appointing another Thomas or Scalia.”

Aside from the false notion that I “believe it doesn’t make a difference” if Trump gets elected, I agree that I certainly owe my children (ages 43, 39, 36) an explanation for why I’m voting for Jill Stein, the first time I’ve voted for a Green Party candidate.

I owe them an explanation and an apology for waiting so long (beyond the Planet’s expiration date, I fear!) to stand up and act consistent with my values.

We all agree that a Trump Presidency would be catastrophic. On my travels in Spain (April), Italy (June) and Greece (July), when anyone learned that I was an American, they almost always asked my opinions about the election and expressed alarm about a possible Trump Presidency. I share their alarm, but I reject the binary-thinking that a vote for Stein is a vote for Trump.

The candidates win or lose their campaigns, while the voters cast their ballots. I reject the notion that my vote for Jill Stein will cost HRC the election. If Clinton loses, then her campaign autopsy should consider many factors. I’ll list a few.

  • Clinton’s positions on the substantive issues might have failed to persuade enough voters to support her.
  • Clinton’s track record (years and years on the track) might have failed to persuade enough voters to support her.
  • Clinton’s campaign staff and volunteers might have failed to GOTV sufficiently.
  • Clinton’s Superdelegates who swung the primary in her favor might have failed to swing the general election in her favor.
  • Clinton’s legal issues (emails, etc.) might have ended up being a greater drag on her run for the White House than the Superdelegates and the DNC imagined.
  • Clinton’s DNC’s apology to Bernie Sanders might have failed to convince enough voters that the DNC is not a tool of the party establishment.
  • Clinton’s flip-flopping on the TPP might have failed to convince enough voters that her current opposition to the TPP is genuine.
  • Clinton’s aggressive pro-fracking advocacy around the world might have failed to convince enough voters at home that she’s serious about tackling climate change, as many of us believe it must be fought.
  • Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy positions might have unnerved many voters who thought they had voted for a change in direction when they elected Obama, but soon learned Obama (and even more so Clinton) did not share many Americans’ concerns about our country’s perpetual war.
  • Her obeisant and unquestioning loyalty to the government of Israel might not sit well with a growing number of American Jews who are fed up with Israel’s actions in the West Bank and Gaza.

There will certainly be many other factors to consider postmortem, if Clinton loses in November, but realistically the polls and common wisdom point in her favor. The list of Republicans who are voting for Clinton is growing daily.

So why am I NOT voting for Clinton?  Why can’t I bite my tongue, pinch my nose, or do whatever else it might take to vote for the lesser of two evils?

I always knew I couldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton.  I knew it in 2008 and my opinion hasn’t changed. I’m not a Bernie or Bust groupie. I abhor group-think in any form. Just because Bernie Sanders now endorses HRC and urges his supporters to vote for her, doesn’t persuade me in the least to follow his recommendation. I think for myself.

After it was clear that Trump would be the Republican nominee, and HRC would be the Democratic nominee, I considered my options  and decided that I could vote for Jill Stein. Here’s my calculus.

I’m voting in New Mexico, a safe state for Dems. If I voted in a swing, battleground state, my calculus would be quite different. HRC is very likely going to pull off a very big win in N.M., even bigger now that many Republicans are jumping their sinking ship and announcing their support for HRC. My vote for Stein will help bolster the Green Party’s standing in 2020, and might send a message to the Democratic Party that they no longer stand for my values.

I’m not a one issue voter. And I don’t demand 100% perfection from any candidate, contrary to what some friends have alleged.

I was an enthusiastic Sanders supporter, contributing $25/month to his campaign before any of my friends on-and-off Facebook acknowledged that he might actually pull off a win. His positions didn’t align with mine 100% but he was much, much closer than any other candidate, and I felt he could be “educated” on issues, such as Black Lives Matter and Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

Einstein

I’ve been watching HRC and her campaign very carefully these past few weeks, secretly hoping that she would give me some reason to vote for her — not perfection, but some small kernel of hope that I might have been mistaken all these years about her.

She gave me nothing. The DNC gave me nothing. Both confirmed for me that my decision to vote for Jill Stein is the only decision I can make consistent with my values.

Consider the following:

  1. The primary was rigged against Sanders.  Despite many friends asserting otherwise, the evidence appears too strong to deny. I’m particularly disgusted with the Superdelegates disclosing their pledges (for Clinton or Sanders) before the voters even cast their votes. Could Sanders have won the primary if the Superdelegates had not prematurely thrown their support for HRC and the media had not prematurely announced the “winner”? We will never know. But we should all be very troubled with these revelations and how the Democratic primary was conducted.
  2. The two sides hammered out a pretty good Dem platform, but I was sorely disappointed by the Clinton representatives’ intransigence on TPP and Israel’s occupation of Palestine. I don’t think the Party’s platform should be taken too seriously, it certainly  has no binding effect and doesn’t hold anyone’s feet to the fire. But the discussions that lead up to its adoption should give everyone pause. HRC says she opposes the TPP, but then why did her representatives oppose a position against the TPP in the non-binding Democratic Party Platform?

3. I’ve come to the conclusion that we (all of us on the planet) have run out of time. We have the answers, we don’t have the political will power to effect the radical change we need.  We don’t have time for the status quo and incrementalism that a Clinton Presidency promises to give us. In my view, HRC represents a nail in the coffin of the war on climate change because of her positions on fracking and oil & gas. She represents a nail in the coffin of a sane and just foreign policy in the Middle East and around the world. She represents a nail in the coffin of a sane economic policy for Americans and everyone on the planet. She just doesn’t get it.  Those are the three big issues and she gets an F in all three.

So I’m voting for Jill Stein because I must act and vote consistent with my values. I don’t expect miracles if Stein is elected, but I don’t expect a continuation of the status quo either. If Jill Stein’s deeds and actions match only a sliver of her rhetoric, then she will be a better President than either HRC or Trump. And she’ll be the first woman elected President in the United States, the first Green Party candidate elected, and the first sane candidate elected to the highest office in the land who is unbeholding to the corporatocracy.

I won’t tell you how to vote, but I hope you will get out and vote.

Corporatocracy

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Climate Change, Elections, People, Politics, Uncategorized, US Policy, Video

Superdelegates = entitlement politics

Ballot-Box

Stop the printing press!

I’m working on a deadline, trying not to let myself be distracted by Facebook.  Thirty years ago, the distractions were young children running around in the house, or the radio blaring, or the damn telephone (not cellphone). Today the distractions come whenever I hear that signal beeping from my “smart/stupid” phone alerting me to the fact that a new email has arrived, or someone has posted on my Facebook or Twitter.

I must now stop writing my ALR (for those in the legal business, ALR will ring a bell) and turn my attention to responding to a provocative comment that a former elected official (Lt. Gov.) of state government wrote in response to my Facebook post.

My original post sets the context.

If the HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton] campaign claims tomorrow [Tuesday, June 7, 2016] that she is the Party’s nominee, based on Superdelegates who haven’t voted yet and prematurely exclaimed their support before the electorate had a chance to cast their ballots, then I’m announcing my withdrawal from the Democratic Party.

This generated responses from many people, but the one that really lit my fire is the one from the former Lt. Gov. (a Democrat) —

“I personally resent your aspersions on the superdelegates who have all worked hard for the Party, to run for office, to be a part of the party, to represent their constituents, and been dedicated to the Principles of the Party.( for the most part) You are — totally drinking bernie’s establishment kool aid. They [meaning the super-delegates] have actually earned their right to have a say in the Party’s nominee thru many years of activism…Bernie is asking those people to vote for him although he has been a party basher for all of his career until now and it is unfortunate. I am surprised with your attitude that you don’t take some humbrage that Bernie is now lying to his supporters about his ability to win. He may resent the fact that HIllary is smarter and actually had a solid plan to win the nomination but the facts are the facts. Hillary is winning fair and square. Hillary has EARNED the superdelegate votes, not just by her huge majority in the popular vote, winning 8 of the last 12 primaries, but thru her years of service and hard work on behalf of the Party and yes, the country. If the party has left you by supporting gay marriage, a woman’s right to her own decisions, support for equal pay, against gun violence, climate change initiatives that protect the planet, penalties on Wall Street and big banks, then It would be interestsing to see what Party you will join. Don’t be so weak that a “process” and not a policy is your grounding stone to your new party…whatever it is.”

Now there’s certainly alot to take issue with in this response, but I’ll stick to only one glaring problem, which actually represents the biggest problem within the Democratic Party.

The one and ONLY way a candidate earns the right to be President of the United States is by convincing Americans that he/she can do the best job and then earning their votes, the hard way …. at the ballotbox. In a democracy, that is how it’s suppose to work, and before Citizens United, many of us believed that was the way it actually worked.  Since 2010, we’ve faced the reality that PACs and special interests with big pocketbooks can legally buy the elections, and voters are understandably fed-up.

Now comes a candidate without PACs and big money to support him, without the Party machinery to grease the wheels for him, and shows all of us that good ideas can prevail despite the odds against him. Instead of running as a Third Party candidate (which I presume he decided would hurt the Dem ticket and get the Republican candidate elected), he is running as a Democrat, playing by the rules of the game as established by the party bosses.

So why do the comments of the Lt. Gov. ….  “Hillary has EARNED the superdelegate votes ….  irk me so much?

Because the Lt. Gov. has exposed the ugly underbelly of the Democratic Party. It’s not our votes (your vote, my vote, the votes of the next generation) that count. Rather it’s the votes of the superdelegates and their belief that they and their cronies have an entitlement to the position simply by playing the inside game — the voters be damned.

This isn’t just Presidential candidates, but all politicians in the Democratic Party. They feel they are OWED something — reelection term after term in gerrymandered districts, best retirement perks in the country, and the right to sway elections if they are superdelegates.

This sense of entitlement makes me angry. If  HRC earns the majority of the  popular vote,  and  if  she earns the majority of the  pledged delegates,  AFTER ALL OF THE VOTES HAVE BEEN CAST, then I say “more power to her.”  Then, and only then, does she deserve to be the next President. 

But the Democratic Party machinery needs a good kick in the butt if it truly wants to be the Party representing the progressive values of the next generation.

And my short response to the Lt. Gov. who doesn’t get it ….. “Yes, process matters.”

 

 

 

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Netanyahu’s Re-election – Israel’s Berlin Wall Moment?

Now we all know — progress in the Holy Land will only come with pressure from the outside, not inside Israel.

For months, if not years, I’ve been warning my Jewish American friends and family “Netanyahu isn’t sincere about the so-called ‘peace talks’ with the Palestinians. You can’t trust what he says about the Palestinians, Iranians or anyone else for that matter. Bibi governs by fear-mongering and he’s a racist to boot!”  Some friends pushed back, others just dropped away quietly, and a few shed tears.

Benjamin_Netanyahu_portrait

On Monday, Netanyahu dropped his mask and revealed what I’ve been saying all along. He explicitly disavowed any support for a Palestinian state and he warned Jewish Israelis that Arabs were out voting in “droves” (alleging, in a conspiratorial manner reminiscent of white supremacists in the US Jim Crow South, that “Left-wing organizations are busing them out”). Even the New York Times, which always regurgitates AIPAC’s framing of the issues, published an editorial on Tuesday announcing that Netanyahu has forfeited any claim to representing all Israelis because of his “racist rants.”

There’s no pleasure in my “I told you so” moment. I only hope this election prompts Americans of every stripe to reconsider their knee-jerk adulation for this Yahoo. Members of Congress who earlier this month gave him multiple standing ovations (they applauded 39 times of which 23 were standing ovations) should be re-evaluating their unquestioning allegiance to AIPAC and this man who says the “U.S. has no greater ally than Israel.”

The Mask Has Fallen

The U.S. needs to break Israel’s chains, and not let this rogue state wag U.S. policy in the Middle East. Ravit Hecht writes in this Haaretz article

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won. The man whose closest colleagues tell horror stories about him won. The man most hated by the U.S. administration won. The man who even disgusts many right-wing voters won. The man, a serving prime minister, who said on Election Day that “the Arabs are going out in droves to vote” won. The man who never flinched during a crisis from inciting, dividing and frightening people won.”

In the age of rigged elections, was there any independent monitoring of Israel’s election? Hecht continues:

“Israel will sink into international, academic and economic isolation. Its intellectual and economic elites will leave; young people will seek a life with hope. Only those who prefer the land’s holy stones over life itself, and the poor who can’t afford otherwise, will stay. The Zionist dream, which has already suffered an indecent act committed against it, will be mortgaged completely to messianism and violence.”

Mahmoud Nawajaa from the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the broad coalition of Palestinian civil society organisations that leads the global BDS movement, said:

“Netanyahu race baiting and fear mongering among Jewish Israelis have revealed how deeply seated and prevalent racism has become in Israel. More than any previous Israeli leader, Netanyahu has clearly shown that he only represents Jewish Israelis, considering the indigenous Palestinian citizens an enemy that must be feared, hated and combated.”

Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian human rights activist and a co-founder of the BDS movement, added:

“Israel, a belligerent nuclear power that completely disregards international law and basic human rights, will soon have its most fanatical government ever, with grave consequences for Palestinians as well as for world peace. Israel has dropped the mask.”

“The UN and world governments must take part of the blame for this victory by the far right. They have failed to hold Israel accountable to international law by imposing sanctions on it as was done against apartheid South Africa. They rejected pressure from world public opinion to stop Israel’s latest massacre in the besieged Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014 and its ongoing feverish colonization of the West Bank, especially in and around East Jerusalem and in the Jordan Valley. They were apathetic when Israel adopted even more extreme, racist laws that have further entrenched its regime of legalized and institutionalized racism which meets the UN definition of apartheid.”

“The biggest losers in the Israeli election are the Israeli right parties that wear left masks, like Labor and Tzipi Livni’s party. Both are guilty of cementing the occupation, the settlements and the apartheid regime, and both are guilty of grave war crimes against the Palestinian people. While rejecting the basic right to equality for Palestinians, both have managed to maintain a false façade of ‘moderateness’ and even ‘left’ tendencies. The mask has fallen. There is a Zionist consensus, with no exceptions, against equality for Palestinians in Israel, against the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their lands and homes from which they were ethnically cleansed, and against a real end to Israel’s unique system of occupation, colonization and apartheid.”

This election changes the status quo (Obama and Kerry can’t continue with their Orwellian posturing that has characterized the past 6 years) and Lora Lucero, their pseudo adviser on Israeli-Palestinian affairs, makes the following recommendations:

  • Signal to your counterparts on the U.N. Security Council that you will support any resolution addressing long-term justice and sovereignty for Palestinians. The U.S. will not use its veto power on measures that criticize Israel, a major departure from the past 40 years.
  • Withdraw your open door policy to AIPAC lobbyists, and require AIPAC to register pursuant to the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
  • Reclaim U.S. sovereignty and control in foreign policy-making by setting firm RED LINES which Israel cannot cross without consequences. Then clearly set out the consequences and dispatch Secretary Kerry to Jerusalem to tell Knesset leaders (not just Netanyahu) where the RED LINES have been drawn and the consequences for their failure to comply.
  • Initiate front-door channels of diplomacy with Hamas, and direct Secretary Kerry to remove Hamas from the Foreign Terrorist Organization list.
  • Do not obstruct Palestinians’ efforts to seek justice in the International Criminal Court.
  • Send the Sixth Fleet to Gaza with badly-needed building supplies and medical equipment/supplies.
  • Support private attempts to build a fully-functioning seaport for the Gaza Strip.

This could be Obama’s legacy – his Berlin Wall moment — if he seizes it. Israel’s intransigence to any efforts to end the occupation and build a sustainable future for Palestinians will surely fall just as the Berlin Wall fell, if the U.S. aligns its foreign policy with its principles of justice, compassion and security for all.

Berlin Wall Falling November 1989

Berlin Wall Falling November 1989

 

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Elizabeth Warren is a rock star!

Senator Elizabeth Warren came to Albuquerque yesterday to help Senator Tom Udall with his challenging fundraising campaign.  Following their upscale reception in a ritzy home with 70+ large donors, they stopped by Morningside Park to hob nob with the rest of us — the solidly 99%.

200-250 Dem supporters gathered at Morningside Park

200-250 Dem supporters gathered at Morningside Park in Albuquerque – October 1, 2014

I attended because I was hoping to present Denny Cormier’s letter to both Warren and Udall, but I failed. Couldn’t get close enough to either of them. So I gave Denny’s letter to Udall’s staff and I hope it will get into his hands, and he will read it.  You can read Denny’s letter here. And if you want to help get his letter into the hands of your member of Congress, check-in here.

Debra Haaland, running for Lt. Gov., introduced Representative Michelle Lujan-Grisham, who introduced Senator Udall, who introduced Senator Warren. There was no mistake — everyone was there to hear Senator Warren.

Debra Haaland, candidate for Lt. Gov.

Debra Haaland, candidate for Lt. Governor of New Mexico 

Representative Michelle Lujan-Grisham running for reelection.

Representative Michelle Lujan-Grisham running for reelection.

Senator Tom Udall (l.) running for reelection

Senator Tom Udall (l.) running for reelection and Gary King on far right running for Governor

Senator Warren shared a very populist message, repeating her themes about holding Wall Street bankers accountable, and returning America to the country that works for everyone, not just the wealthy powerful elites. The audience cheered and applauded many times (I lost count!).

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While Senator Warren was speaking, two men with (Un)Occupy Albuquerque walked in front of her with a large sign. “Israel Out of Palestine!”  They were shouting but quickly removed by security.

Protesters carry large banner in front of Senator Warren

Protesters carry large banner in front of Senator Warren

Senator Warren continued unflustered, but she couldn’t unring a bell that has rung. I saw many people in the audience who nodded in approval and support of the two demonstrators who had the courage to confront Warren for her recent comments defending Israel’s shelling of hospitals and schools in Gaza. Liberals, at least some that I talk with, are very disappointed with Warren’s apparent lockstep with AIPAC’s position. Here’s what Warren said in August:

“I think the vote was right, and I’ll tell you why I think the vote was right,” [Warren] said. “America has a very special relationship with Israel. Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren’t many liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by the rule of law. And we very much need an ally in that part of the world.”

Warren said Hamas has attacked Israel ‘indiscriminately,’ but with the Iron Dome defense system, the missiles have “not had the terrorist effect Hamas hoped for.” When pressed by another member of the crowd about civilian casualties from Israel’s attacks, Warren said she believes those casualties are the “last thing Israel wants.”

“But when Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they’re using their civilian population to protect their military assets. And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself,” Warren said, drawing applause.

These are words straight from AIPAC’s messaging this summer, straight as an arrow — “Hamas was the aggressor.”  “Hamas was using its women and children as shields to protect its rockets.”  “Hamas is the terrorist in this combat, and Israel is merely defending herself.”  I wouldn’t be surprised if she heard some of this same baloney in Congressional briefings by the State Department.

She’s a smart woman, an independent thinker. I think she’s still educable on the issue. I recently sent her a letter and a book “Gaza Writes Back” — I haven’t given up on her . . . yet.

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren

But I certainly have given up on Hillary Clinton. She will never get my vote for anything even if The Atlantic thinks her hawkish views won’t upset the Democratic base.  Maybe I’m no longer part of that base, or maybe someone is just making a serious miscalculation. It’s time for the Democrats to stand for justice, not just in words but in deeds and in how we allocate our federal budget.

And KUDOS to those two young men who stood up with that pro-Palestine banner. It takes courage and I applaud them.

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