Wednesday, July 19, 2006

4 Tunes latter day could consider singing

Twenty-five years ago I stared into the eyes of Michael Berman, chief operative for his congressman-brother, Howard Berman. I was a neophyte running for the California Assembly in a district that the Bermans claimed belonged to them. "I represent the Israeli defense forces," Michael said. I thought he was joking. He wasn't. Michael seemed to imagine himself the gatekeeper protecting Los Angeles' Westside for Israel's political interests, and those of the famous Berman-Waxman machine. Since Jews represented one-third of the Democratic district’s primary voters, Berman held a balance of power.
All that year I tried to navigate the district's Jewish politics. The solid historical liberalism of the Westside was a favorable factor, as was the strong support of many Jewish community leaders. But the community was moving in a more conservative direction. Some were infuriated at my sponsorship of Santa Monica's tough rent control ordinance. Many in the organized community were suspicious of the New Left for becoming Palestinian sympathizers after the Six Day War; they would become today's neoconservatives. I had traveled to Israel in a generally supportive capacity, meeting officials from all parties, studying energy projects, befriending peace advocates like the writer Amos Oz. I also met with Palestinians and commented favorably on the works of Edward Said. As a result, a Berman ally prepared an anti-Hayden dossier in an attempt to discredit my candidacy with the Democratic leadership in the California state capital. This led to the deli lunch with Michael Berman. He and his brother were privately leaning toward an upcoming young prosecutor named Adam Schiff, who later became the congressman from Pasadena. But they calculated that Schiff couldn’t win without name recognition, so they were considering "renting" me the Assembly seat, Berman said. But there was one condition: that I always be a "good friend of Israel." This wasn't a particular problem at the time. Since the 1970s I had favored some sort of two-state solution. I felt close to the local Jewish activists who descended from the labor movement and participated in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam movements. I wanted to take up the cause of the aging Holocaust survivors against the global insurance companies that had plundered their assets. While I believed the Palestinians had a right to self-determination, I didn't share the animus of some on the American left who questioned Israel’s very legitimacy. I was more inclined toward the politics of Israel’s Peace Now and those Palestinian nationalists and human rights activists who accepted Israel’s pre-1967 borders as a reality to accommodate. I disliked the apocalyptic visions of the Israeli settlers I had met, and thought that even hard-line Palestinians would grudgingly accept a genuine peace initiative. I can offer my real-life experience to the present discussion about the existence and power of an "Israel lobby." It is not as monolithic as some argue, but it is far more than just another interest group in a pluralist political world. In recognizing its diversity, distinctions must be drawn between voters and elites, between Reform and Orthodox tendencies, between the less observant and the more observant. During my ultimate 18 years in office, I received most of my Jewish support from the ranks of the liberal and less observant voters. But I also received support from conservative Jews who saw themselves as excluded by a Jewish (and Democratic) establishment.

The above, noted by Brady, is from Tom Hayden's "Things Come Round" (Truth Dig). It takes a lot of spirit to write the above so, if you use links, check out the entire essay. We'll lead with that and make it one of four things are actually important (as opposed to silly "tone" arguments and shout-outs to Evan Blah -- see previous entry).

Liang notes Kathleen Christison's "Atrocities in the Promised Land" (CounterPunch) (and notes that Laura Flanders interviewed Christison's husband not that long ago):

But it needs to be said now, loudly: those who devise and carry out Israeli policies have made Israel into a monster, and it has come time for all of us -- all Israelis, all Jews who allow Israel to speak for them, all Americans who do nothing to end U.S. support for Israel and its murderous policies -- to recognize that we stain ourselves morally by continuing to sit by while Israel carries out its atrocities against the Palestinians.
A nation that mandates the primacy of one ethnicity or religion over all others will eventually become psychologically dysfunctional. Narcissistically obsessed with its own image, it must strive to maintain its racial superiority at all costs and will inevitably come to view any resistance to this imagined superiority as an existential threat. Indeed, any other people automatically becomes an existential threat simply by virtue of its own existence. As it seeks to protect itself against phantom threats, the racist state becomes increasingly paranoid, its society closed and insular, intellectually limited. Setbacks enrage it; humiliations madden it. The state lashes out in a crazed effort, lacking any sense of proportion, to reassure itself of its strength.
The pattern played out in Nazi Germany as it sought to maintain a mythical Aryan superiority. It is playing out now in Israel.

"This society no longer recognizes any boundaries, geographical or moral," wrote Israeli intellectual and anti-Zionist activist Michel Warschawski in his 2004 book Towards an Open Tomb: The Crisis of Israeli Society. Israel knows no limits and is lashing out as it finds that its attempt to beat the Palestinians into submission and swallow Palestine whole is being thwarted by a resilient, dignified Palestinian people who refuse to submit quietly and give up resisting Israel's arrogance.
We in the United States have become inured to tragedy inflicted by Israel, and we easily fall for the spin that automatically, by some trick of the imagination, converts
Israeli atrocities to examples of how Israel is victimized. But a military establishment that drops a 500-pound bomb on a residential apartment building in the middle of the night and kills 14 sleeping civilians, as happened in Gaza four years ago, is not a military that operates by civilized rules.

So we've got two highlights on the Middle East, Lloyd notes the topic of spying, Matthew Rothschild's "Homeland Security Spies on Student Anti-War Groups" (McCarthyism Watch, The Progressive):

You probably know that the Pentagon has been spying on anti-war groups.
Now it turns out that Homeland Security has been working hand in glove with the Pentagon--at least in California.
The ACLU of Northern California released two documents on July 18 that reveal Homeland Security as a source of information for the Pentagon on protests at the University of California Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz.
Pentagon document is dated April 6, 2005. It is labeled a "Talon report." Talon stands for Threat and Local Observation Notice, and that's the system the Pentagon uses to gather data on what it considers to be domestic threats.
Under "Incident Type," this document says "Specified Threats."
Under "Subject," it says, "Protest Against Military Recruiters at University of California at Santa Cruz (USC) on 5 Apr. 05."
Under "Source," it says: "A special agent of the Federal Protective Service, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Source is reliable."
Evidently, the source had access to the e-mail of the peace activists because the document says: "Source received an e-mail from [blacked out] at e-mail address [blacked out] dated 1 April 2005 (PST), subject: Action Tuesday to Kick Military Recruiters Out of USC!"
This e-mail tells demonstrators "to have fun and bring 5 friends," the Pentagon document notes. It also says, "Sign the petition to ban recruiters from USC."
The document adds, "The text of the e-mail does not state if civil disobedience is planned to occur at this protest."
Under "Coordinating Agencies," the document lists, among others, "902d MI Group," and "JTTF San Francisco."
"The 902d Military Intelligence Group conducts Counterintelligence (CI) activities in support of Army Commanders and to protect Army forces, secrets, and technologies by detecting, identifying, neutralizing and exploiting Foreign Intelligence Services (FIS) and International Terrorist Threats," according to its
JTTF stands for the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. "They are our nation's front line on terrorism: small cells of highly trained, locally based, passionately committed investigators, analysts, linguists, SWAT experts, and other specialists from dozens of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies," says the FBI at its

FYI, West e-mailed to say Matthew Rothschild stated on Progressive Radio (with guest Alison Bechdel) that he'd recently finished a book. (Writing. Obviously, he "finishes" many books in the reading sense -- insert my usual plug for The Progressive's book reviews.)

Lastly, Billie says another name needs to be added. Along with Nancy A. Youssef and Aaron Glatnz coverage of the fact that the US does keep body counts of Iraqi civilians, Billie notes
Juliana Lara Resende's "50,000 Dead, But Who's Counting?" (IPS):

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 7 (IPS) - After famously telling reporters that they "don't do body counts", Pentagon officials now say that they have in fact been keeping a record of civilian casualties in Iraq for one year. And while that number remains classified, independent estimates suggest that at least 50,000 people have died in the country since the 2003 invasion.
According to statistics compiled by the Baghdad morgue, the Iraqi Health Ministry and other agencies, as reported recently in the Los Angeles Times, that total is 20,000 higher then the George W. Bush administration had previously estimated. Last year, Bush asserted that, "30,000, more or less, have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis."
In terms of population size, this would be equivalent to 570,000 U.S. citizens killed in the same period of time, noted the Jun. 25 LA Times article. However, the Iraqi Health Ministry says this figure is artificially low since it does not include deaths that occurred outside Baghdad in the first year of the occupation, or those in the three northern provinces of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan.
And due to the ongoing daily violence and security crackdowns, as well as power shortages and failing communications networks, health workers have been unable to compile accurate data concerning how many people die in the country.

So that's four items worth following (as opposed to the nonsense noted in this entry). The e-mail address for this site is