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Saturday, March 31, 2007

How Palestine became "Israel's Land"

How Palestine became “Israel’s Land”

by Sonja Karkar
March 31, 2007
Women for Palestine

For Palestinians, theirs is not the land of conquest, but the land of their roots going back to time immemorial. Such a lineage does not rely on a biblical promise like the Jewish claim that God promised the land to Abraham and his descendants, and is therefore, the historical site of the Jewish kingdom of Israel. It belongs to the people of Palestine by the simple fact of their continuous residence repeated through birth and possession going back to the earliest Canaanites and even those people living there before recorded history. They were there when the Israelites invaded the land, occupied it, and held it intermittently as wave after wave of other conquerors came and went, and they were still there when the Romans put an end to Jewish Palestine by destroying Jerusalem in 135AD. If a religious basis is sought, then the Palestinians can lay claim to being the descendants of Abraham’s son Ishmael who is regarded the forefather of the Arabs. But actually, Palestinian rights are enshrined in the universally accepted principle that land belongs to its indigenous inhabitants. Thus, the modern day struggle for this land by European Jewish immigrants who have no connection with Palestine other than through their religion is a colonial enterprise that seeks sovereignty for an “external Jewish population” to the exclusion of the indigenous Palestinians who, regardless of faith – Jewish, Christian or Muslim – have lived together for centuries.

Although eager to accept the UN Partition Plan of 1947 which recommended that 56% of the land be set aside for a Jewish State, 42% for an Arab state and 2% for an internationalised Jerusalem and its surrounds, the world has not said a word about the land that was seized by Zionist terrorists before the State of Israel was proclaimed on 14 May 1948. Through a series of shocking massacres, the territory assigned to the Jews suddenly became 77% resulting in more than 750,000 Palestinians being forcibly expelled and dispossessed of their homes, personal property and their homeland. The Jewish State then came into being without waiting for the United Nations Commission - prescribed in the Partition resolution - to hand authority progressively over to the Jewish and Arab leaders for their respective states. And after the 1948 war, Israel declared Jerusalem its capital in contravention of its internationally-recognised status of corpus separatum a status that is still recognised. Effectively, the new state of Israel was not only created in violation of, it continued to violate, the very resolution which Israelis now look to as giving them sovereignty. The Arab state imposed by the UN Partition Plan without consultation and in contradiction to the UN charter - which should have upheld the majority indigenous Palestinians’ right to self-determination - has since been deliberately and methodically whittled away by Israel, leaving nothing but isolated non-contiguous parcels of land to some 4 million Palestinians.

Around 170,000 Palestinians remained in what became Israel, the largest number of whom resided in the Galilee area, originally a designated part of the Arab state under the Partition Plan. These Palestinians also became the victims of Israel’s land grab policy. Over 438,000 acres, which was more than the total Jewish land holdings at the time, were confiscated and a further 400,000 acres were marked for confiscation. After Israel won the 1967 war, the total territory of Palestine came under Israel’s rule. It annexed East Jerusalem, despite the Holy City’s internationally recognised status and began implementing its Jewish settlement program with a vengeance. The Palestinians in Israel were increasingly aware of their precarious position politically and declared a national strike, known as “Land Day” on 30 March 1976 against Israel’s continuing ruthless land expropriation. An affinity was quickly felt between Palestinians everywhere and “Land Day” was adopted as a sort of national Palestinian day which is commemorated by Palestinians and their supporters around the world each year. This awakening of national consciousness had an unequivocal political message: end the occupation and allow self-determination of the Palestinians in a sovereign state living in peace side by side with Israel.

Thirty-one years later, the message is till resonating, but the Palestinians are further away from seeing a solution than ever before. Daily, Israel is taking a bit of land here and a bit of land there, to make all of Palestine Israel’s Land”. The problem then will be, what to do with 5 million Palestinians with no land? There are only a few possible, but criminal solutions - transfer, collective imprisonment, apartheid, and/or ethnic cleansing. Alternatively, Israel can disengage from the West Bank to the 1967 borders or agree on a single, democratic state for all. Without a just solution, the struggle for Palestine’s land will continue.

Source: ZNET

Friday, March 30, 2007

KPFK, the LA Times and others, the targets of Zionist Pressures, STAND UP!

Living in Los Angeles has it's pros and cons, but one of the DEFINITE pros is having access to KPFK, one of Pacifica Radios stations which offers MUCH needed alternative to the mainstream media. KPFK (radio) sponsors MANY events in the LA area-such as the event for Giuliana Sgrena and many of the others I have written about here on my blog. In fact that event was done as an interview on stage which was also broadcast on KPFK for all the listeners to hear who could not attend. I usually don't like using Wikipedia sources, but here is their entry on KPFK: (minus what is termed "far left" which is obviously used as a derogatory term in an attempt to discredit)

KPFK (90.7 FM) is a radio station in Los Angeles, California, United States, that serves the Greater Los Angeles Area. It can also be heard 24 hours a day via Internet webcast. It was the second of five stations in the non-commercial, listener-sponsored Pacifica Radio network. It was launched in 1959, twelve years after the Pacifica Foundation was created by pacifist Lewis Hill, and ten years after the flagship station was founded in Berkeley. KPFK also broadcasts on KPFK-FM1 along the Malibu coast and K254AH 98.7 MHz in Santa Barbara.

With its 110,000 watt main transmitter atop Mount Wilson, KPFK is one of the most powerful FM stations in the US. A second 10-watt transmitter is licensed in Isla Vista, California, a census-designated place outside of Santa Barbara. The antenna is located atop Gibraltar Peak, which gives it a range covering a large portion of coastal Santa Barbara County. Its self-proclaimed political allegiance is progressive, with some classifying it as far left.


The stations in the Pacifica network receive some funding from charitable organizations such as the Ford Foundation, but operating costs are primarily covered by listener-sponsors, as the station runs no advertisements or other commercial programming. On-air fund drives tend to occur thrice yearly, although there are occasional drives held for special circumstances. For example, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, KPFK held a fund drive to raise money for survivors of the catastrophe. Contributors to KPFK generally donate a minimum of $25 for a year-long membership, and larger donations are rewarded with DVDs, CDs, and books. For people that contribute upwards of $100, there is the KPFK Film Club. The film club screens art films, documentaries, film classics, and even current first-run films on weekend mornings. Although the club only promises at least 12 films per years, there were over 100 screenings in 2004.

[edit] Programming

Like most Pacifica stations, KPFK runs an eclectic schedule, including world music, talk radio, and public affairs programming. While KPFK airs some national programming, including Democracy Now and Free Speech Radio News, most programming is local. KPFK hosts, who are referred to as "programmers", are accorded the maximum amount of editorial freedom possible. The only requirement is that they adhere to KPFK's mission statement, which states that all programming must be educational and non-commercial, must "serve the cultural welfare of the community", and must "contribute to a lasting understanding between nations and between the individuals of all nations, races, creeds and colors". The station's political position is generally regarded as on the left-wing of the political spectrum. This includes issues regarding women, the many ethnic groups which make up a sizable population of Southern California, and the LGBT community. In fact, IMRU, KPFK's program on LGBT affairs, is the nation's longest-running broadcast produced by and for the LGBT community.

One unique feature of the KPFK schedule is its Spanish language programming, which is an hour and a half on Monday-Thursday (9-10:30 PM) and 5.5 hours on Saturday evenings (4-9:30 PM). During those programs, all announcements except for the call letters are made in Spanish. KFPK was the only public radio station in the United States to split its schedule in this way. However, KPFK has now launched a half-hour daily Spanish language news program for the Pacifica network, which is being carried on KPFK at 5:30 AM PT (replacing a previous local bilingual Spanish-English news show) and is also carried by other PAcifica stations and affiliates.


KPFK quite often is the ONLY source of news not heard elsewhere. It is vibrant, truthfull, progressive, informative, and IS the channel of choice for all Angelinos (and elsewhere where it airs) who do NOT want to be fed the crap on the mainstream media ANY MORE.

Well, last month, KPFK had a food drive (as well as their fundraiser, because KPFK does NOT run commercials therefore it is completely free of corporate control) Apparently Gelsons Market made a "modest food donation" and have written a letter of regret for their actions because KPFK they say is anti-Israel. What is anti-Israel? In KPFK's case it is doing a GREAT deal of programming on the Palestinians, having many Palestinian and other Mideast experts speak. Democracy Now also airs on KPFK and we all know that one is "anti-Israel" don't we? Yes, any program that airs the truth of what is happening to the Palestinians at the hands of the oppressor Zionist nation should NOT be supported, and better yet, lets do ALL we can do to make sure we tell everyone else not to support KPFK either. Incidentally, NPR is also a target. Trader Joes has also caved into the pressure.

Following is the letter from the president of Gelson's Market :

Gelson's has just been made aware that radio station KPFK had listed Gelson's as a "supporter" after Gelson's was asked to, and did, participate in February in a single fund-raising event for KPFK (providing a very modest food donation) after we were told that numerous other well-known retailers were also participating. So far as we can determine at this time, this is the only donation Gelson's has ever made to this radio station. We were not aware of KPFK's apparently well-known anti-Israel positions. We would never knowingly support an organization that was demonstrably anti-Israel, and immediately upon learning of KPFK's stated positions, we demanded that our name be removed as a KPFK supporter. It was promptly removed. We completely and unalterably disassociate ourselves from any and all anti-Israel positions KPFK may have taken in the past or may take in the future.

We made a mistake -- an innocent mistake. We have addressed this oversight with the Gelson's employee who was responsible for this donation, and we will do everything we can to be sure that this does not happen again.
Sincerest Regards,

Robert E. Stiles

But it gets worse, it seems CAMERA is behind all of this and they even want us to cancel our subscriptions to the LA Times because(among other things) they let Saree Makdisi's article

"Why does the Times Recognize Israel's Right to Exist" be printed. Several other bloggers have reprinted Saree's article and one fellow blogger, Umkahlil, even had her own letter published in the LA Times thanking them for publishing it.

Thank you for publishing Makdisi's article. By parroting Israel's script, the media have aided and abetted the destruction of Palestinian life, culture and patrimony. Doesn't everyone realize the absurdity of the elderly Palestinian refugee with a key to his or her house in historic Palestine, proclaiming that the immigrant Jew has a "right to exist" on the refugee's stolen property?


Wiesbaden, Germany

Following is the call to boycott KPFK, NPR, Whole Foods, and the LA Times (apologies for it being hard to read link to the "following is... to go directly to the link to see what they are up to in LA alone)

March 30, 2007

Whole Foods is a Long Time Supporter of KPFK:

Click here to follow the protest against Whole Foods' support of KPFK, Broadcaster of "Radio Intifada"

The state of the propaganda war! KPFK continues to peddle its extremist anti-Israel and anti-semitic PLO propaganda on its "Radio Intifada" show. Ater receiving a wave of letters of protest, Gelson's promptly removed its name from the list of KPFK supporters who donated food to volunteers in KPFK's fund drive. Gelson's also posted a special message to customers on its website. Trader Joe's quickly followed in disappearing from the list though it has not posted a message on its website. Whole Foods, however, still remains on the list. In fact Whole Foods is a long time supporter of the extremist anti-Israel KPFK, and appears on the list of supporters for 2005, 2006, and 2007. Friends of Israel are urged to contact Whole Foods CEO John P. Mackey at and Vice-President A. C. Gallo at and CC to ask them to drop their support of KPFK; and to shop elsewhere until they do - see sample - above, Whole Foods in West Los Angeles, CA - photo © JtB

Stand Up For Israel - Sign The Body Shop Petition

CAMERA Gets the Message - At Least as to NPR:

CAMERA is realizing the power of consumer protest at least as to the anti-Israel NPR - they are advising their members not to contribute to NPR. see CAMERA on NPR Join the Boycott supports CAMERA's NPR protest. see Voting With Your Wallet

At North Hollywood's KPFK - Anti-Semitism For Sale:

For a gift of just $65 to KPFK, you get the CD "Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State". see Radio Intifada; for just $225, a CD of Norman Finkelstein and Dr. Ilan Pappe, noted anti-Israel critics. Anti-semitism is thriving at KPFK. Send letters of protest to KPFK at and CC - photo © JtB

BBC Accused of Covering-Up Report on Anti-Israel Bias:

The Daily Mail reports that the BBC has been accused of spending £200,000 to cover-up a report on its anti-Israel bias. see cover-up, letter to Daily Mail

Please Call 1-800-252-9141 and Cancel Your LA Times
and let us know at

Trader Joe's Disappears From List of KPFK Supporters:

Trader Joe's disappears from the 2007 list of supporters of the extremist anti-Israel KPFK, a welcome development, but TJ's long term support of KPFK is noted. see 2006 list Among those still on the list - Whole Foods. see latest KPFK Supporters list

LA Times Editorial Page Editor Resigns:

Andres Martinez, editor of the LA Times Editorial page, which has included a number of rants by anti-Israel extremists like Saree Makdisi, has resigned over a conflicts issue regarding a guest editor. see E&P, LA Times Watch

Gelson's Dissociates from KPFK - Gelson's Action Over:

Gelson's has posted a statement on its website dissociating itself from KPFK and explaining its actions. see Gelson's Join the Boycott commends Gelson's for its response and thanks all protesters who helped make this happen. The Gelson's action is over.

Are You Boycotting A Newspaper/Media Outlet?
Please let us know at

So what should we do? We should be writing letters of support to KPFK and donating, and to all the other entities who are standing strong against this Zionist pressure.

And FOR SURE start listening to KPFK on the internet where it streams live here.

KPFK's main website is

The Dumbing Down of America

The Dumbing Down of America PDF Print E-mail
Click Name for Bio of Manuel Valenzuela
Wednesday, 11 October 2006
Something is amiss in the great nation called America. Ominous sirens warning this reality can be heard emanating loudly through invisible winds of change circulating our towns and cities. The American people are being strangulated; unbeknownst to the masses they are being transformed and conditioned, becoming the entity the elite have long sought, the culmination of decades of social engineering designed to make of hundreds of millions the slaves of times past and the automatons of the future.

Yet in this present day we find ourselves struggling to comprehend a world gone mad, unable to discern neither the direction we are headed nor the inevitable course time is guiding us on. It is because of what has been done to us, and is presently being done to our children, that we fail to comprehend the severity of the road that lies ahead. Quite successful have the elite become in shifting the balance of power from the masses to themselves. How, one might wonder, has this been accomplished, especially when we are the many and they the few?

It is through the dumbing down of America , the methodical destruction and purposeful elimination of the means by which a society educates and enlightens itself. The evisceration of a system that extols accountability and dialogue, opens up the gates of opportunity with the keys of ability, questions authority and seeks debate, creates a wealth of knowledge and illuminates talent and that births an informed citizenry and creates free thinking, analytical minds has been slowly implemented for the last several decades. The dumbing down of America continues into the present, unrelenting and unhindered, squashing the masses for the benefit of the elite.

A giant threat to the system is being disposed of, systematically and without remorse, making of America and its citizens yet one more cog in the engine called capitalistic exploitation of humanity.

What has happened to the Pax Americana?

Here stands the Pax Americana, the most imposing Empire that ever rose from the short reign of human civilization, responsible for placing the entire manifestation of world citizens at the threshold of perilous danger. It is the Pax Americana that has unwound the stitches holding a volatile world together, the nation that has over the last fifty years caused so much damage to the peoples of the globe. The karma of ceaseless negative energy is coming back to haunt an empire whose actions, while helping enrich its own belly and those residing in its entrails, have decimated untold millions whose only crime was being born in lands destined to suffer the harsh exploitation of America and its capitalistic pandemic.

How has a once admired and loved leader of nations fallen from grace in such a short period of time? What has happened to a populace living in the wealthiest nation in human civilization? Why has the United States transformed itself into the malicious beast the world sees through frightful eyes?

Gluttony and materialism have enveloped all corners of the United States , from Pacific to Atlantic Oceans, from the border with Canada to the one with Mexico . The principles of consumerism and greed are all-encompassing, years ago having replaced virtues long since gone. The clandestine enslavement hidden in mass production and ever-longer working hours has in the last few decades become the value by which we measure one’s worth to society.

The ability to question authority has vanished in a haze of indifference, even as the evaporation of the American mind continues unabated. Government has been transformed right in front of our eyes, becoming not democracy but corporatism, the marriage between the corporate and government elite. Our freedoms and liberties are in shambles, now fragile porcelain being decimated by the thundering herd of bulls in Washington .

The government of, by and for the people is now comprised of leaches flourishing in rotten swamps, prostitutes roaming bordellos masquerading as palaces of governance and fecal matter prospering in the nation’s sewers. Corporations and their minions we help elect dominate and transform society, leading us into the black holes they easily maneuver us into. We are being used and abused, yet with the dumbing down of America easily controlled beings we have turned into, comatose to the danger we have embraced and oblivious to the strings attached to our appendages.

Something eerie seems to have engulfed us in the land of the free and the home of the brave. From the land where all men are created equal has equality disappeared; from a nation espousing freedom has freedom been eviscerated. Once brave dissenters and seekers of accountability have gone missing, allowing free reign to those endowed with power. Free-thinking and analytical minds are as rare as the great apes humanity is making extinct. Rare is the citizen not captive to fear, insecurity and intimidation. The ability to question authority or to seek accountability has collapsed along with the towers of the World Trade Center . A world existing beyond the borders and shores of America, containing six billion fellow humans, has been forgotten and disregarded as ignorance to cultures, nations, beliefs and ethnicities is conditioned into our minds practically from birth.

Something is amiss in a nation where one would expect the plenitudes of Empire to trickle down into every man, woman and child. To bestow upon its citizens the tools needed to seek true freedom of thought and a path towards enlightenment would be expected of an American utopia that is more often preached rather than practiced. Yet the question arises as to the cause of why hundreds of millions continue to fall downwards into empty wells of promises unkept instead of reaching for the zenith of those fulfilled.

What mechanisms left to erode the citizenry of free thought and freedom of mind have been allowed to linger in American society, and how have they been allowed to remain when the reality of what has occurred continues to degrade the Pax Americana from the inside out?

Conditioned Producers and Consumers

Spawned from the assembly line called human procreation we open our eyes to a world ready to transform our life energies into expendable disseminators of the patterns of production and consumption that will mark our time on Earth, in essence becoming the reason for our existence. To the system called capitalism we become nothing more than a number which will in time be exploited to the full extent envisaged by man. We are given social security numbers, digits that will follow us through the journey from newborn to cadaver. To the system we are this number, easily traceable, easily conditioned.

Television begins to inculcate us with rampant bombardments of advertisements, thereby beginning to condition the young, innocent mind to a life trained for consumption. The foods we eat and the products we buy begin establishing the tastes we will forever enjoy. Associations of pleasure, ingrained tastes and smells, nostalgia of fantasy and perfection enter the young brain. It is because of this that corporations want to hook us from the first moments of infancy so loyal lifelong consumers we become. To the innocent and pure mind television thus becomes the window to a world that is neither real nor easy. The virgin brain sees in the shows it is blitzkrieged with a fiction that in reality does not exist. It sees perfection, fantasy, beauty, consumption and loyal acquiescence, and, with the passage of time, seeks to emulate this world in a false belief that it can be attained. Ingrained in this principle is the belief, channeled by corporations, that to achieve what can never be a person must consume and produce, be obedient to authority, friendly to her corporate masters and eager to embrace what society dictates. The dumbing down of America thus begins.

As television becomes parent, teacher, role model, babysitter and entertainer to the child, given the abandonment of historical parental roles thanks to society’s pressure to produce and consume, everything shown becomes everything learned, thus habituating a child to the role corporations have decided to bestow onto him. When everything seen on the screen is created, controlled, manipulated and disseminated by the corporate world the child’s perception of what reality encompasses will indeed also conform to the corporate vision. After image after image, fantasy after fantasy, conditioning after conditioning, the young human mind has no choice but to accept the commands of the brainwashing taking place right in front of his or her baby eyes.

It follows that children learn every behavior from their parents as well. From the very beginning entrenched behaviors to produce and consume become ingrained in the young brain. The long hours at work, the short amount of time spent with the child, the abandonment of parental roles and supervision, the incessant drive for consumption, the wasting of money and pursuit of material possessions, the behaviors of stress, depression, unhappiness, anger and frustration are all absorbed by a mind that in infancy acts like a sponge, learning human society from those closest to its environment, whether it is family or television.

In adulthood, these same behaviors will be manifested, thereby helping fulfill the role of producer and consumer the corporate world has reserved for yet one more human energy sprouting from the conveyor belt of procreation. Thanks to the television and parental subservience to the same system of their youth, one’s progeny will become the bogged down producer of the same products he or she will later voraciously and seemingly without conscious consume.

The vicious circle that is the virus of American capitalism infects seemingly from birth, inoculating children to the vices of exploitation from which they will forever derive their existence. It is at the height of innocence that the forces of capitalism attack, attaching themselves in the depths of a human brain, dissolving precepts not in tune with its compulsive and exploitive self. Once attached the virus is not easily displaced, thereby becoming personality as well as behavior. From the cradle to the grave, destiny in today’s America is guided by the corporate world and its sinister virus, helping not its host but its disseminator, unleashing wave after wave of unhappy and exploited producer and easily conditioned and controlled consumer.

Consequences of a Controlled Populace

Ask an American

Education in the United States has become an exercise in government and corporate brainwashing, used to achieve a citizenry devoid of analytical and free-thinking minds. The purpose, quite simply, is to retain the class warfare structure that has marked American society for decades. Education has become a tool used to make the wealthy richer and the poor more indigent. It is now a mechanism to separate the have nots from the haves, the higher castes from the untouchables. As it stands today, though certainly being eviscerated more and more daily, education is making of the masses impotent creatures of indifference, happily droned into complacency and deprived of a knowledge that once served to curtail the power of the elite that run the nation.

The result is the age of corporatism, the age of unfettered and unaccountable power and the control of the masses through media manipulation, societal fabrication and education eradication. As the world slowly passes through the sands of time the people of the United States, those living inside what has become a most hated geopolitical entity, are seeing the result of being dumbed down and of letting incompetents, warmongers, profiteers and deranged zealots run unfettered and unopposed, ransacking the globe, its people and land in the process.

Today we see the ramifications of a citizenry that has allowed itself to be made ignorant through its submission to those in power whose purposeful malfeasance continues to destroy the very essence of knowledge that grants freedom to enslaved minds. Iraq and the coming disaster in the Middle East are a consequence to the decimation of education in the United States . George W. Bush is a consequence of the dumbing down of America , to which he owes his very position perched like the vulture he is atop the dying tree of America that has been contaminated by his inept and infected claws smeared in human blood.

Those in power have succeeded in making the masses a herd of sheep following the shepherd straight into the slaughterhouse, unaware of the destiny that awaits them nor of their role in the furthering of death, destruction and violence now gripping the world. Like a deer caught in headlights, the masses are hypnotized, unable to see beyond the sight of their own meeting with a fate conditioned into our brains from infancy that is destroying freedom, knowledge and our ability to question the evils being done in our name. America today and the world tomorrow are a manifestation of this truth.

Ignorance has replaced knowledge, resulting in power running amok, incapable of being restrained, mutating and growing, feeding off our inability to escape the debacle currently gripping our collective mind.

Brainwash Education

Stupid in America

The education system in America has been carefully eroded over the course of time, altered in such a way as to make creative and curious children barren and submissive adults indifferent to the world around them. The system now in place begins robbing a child’s ability to think for himself or herself from the very start of the education process. The class structure itself eliminates individuality, personality and energetic ability, as one teacher must educate many students competing for attention. It is here when talents that need to be discovered get ambushed instead. Yet with a class structure that has endured for decades, the child must become part of the whole, learning from books laced with government and/or corporate propaganda.

In many school districts, mostly poor ones strapped for cash, books can be dozens of years old, lacking modern thought or progress. Many books are tools created by entities with special interests that have as a purpose the teaching of their ideology or the furthering of their goals. The absurd teaching of creationism is one such example. Many corporations now create and donate books to school districts that contain references and examples to their brand names and product descriptions. Even in school children cannot escape the growing omnipresence of the corporate Leviathan which thirsts to program the innocent the way it sees fit.

Indeed, the young mind is needlessly brainwashed with a history of a nation that in many instances contradicts and even subverts the true historical reality of the United States . Only the ‘good’ that America has fostered during its rapid and short rise is taught, without ever dealing with the requisite bad inherent in an Empire that has laid claim to land and man during years of brutal conquest, both militarily and economically. Glossing over national heroes, mythifying them into deities and transforming them into perfect human beings is the role of the school book, brainwashing the young to a fictional perfection when reality begs to differ. Yet humanity must be balanced and its reality etched in stone so that future generations learn the human condition as well as its civilization.

The genocide of indigenous Americans is whitewashed; the slavery of blacks that lasted hundreds of years, oftentimes suffering barbaric treatment at the hands of their white masters is easily covered up in a few paragraphs, deceiving readers to the true horrors their ancestors committed or suffered. The subservient role women were placed under for centuries is hardly mentioned, and the great civil rights movement that helped change history for the better never gets the coverage it deserves.

The war crimes and crimes against humanity America has perpetrated worldwide to millions of anonymous people under the rubric of freedom and democracy is never mentioned, rather, they are sugarcoated and glamorized, serving as examples of America’s ‘great history.’ Also, the corrosive and damaging effects of American capitalism disguised as democracy that has condemned untold millions to the dustbins of history is manipulated to look like a chivalrous attempt to save lives and free nations.

Brainwashing unquestioned patriotism into our young one’s minds government controlled education furthers the squashing of dissent and the questioning of our sovereign’s motives. We are conditioned that our elected leaders are gods walking among men, to be trusted and never to be questioned. Their intentions are always noble, their reasoning pure. Dissent and debate, protest and curiosity are seen not as patriotic manifestations of an informed citizenry but rather as an alien afterthought not worthy of nationalistic pride.

The ingraining of loyalty to flag and country, even when committing evil worldwide, is to be allowed to continue, eventually becoming the means by which the state is allowed to declare war, economic genocide and market colonialism, without so much as a whisper from its constituency. The elite therefore bask in the glow of the radiant bean called patriotic fervor, indoctrinated from childhood, lasting until death.

Preaching the noble deeds yet hiding or disguising the evil ingrained in empire building serves only to alter history and manipulate the young, eroding our future in the process. To understand humanity in past, present and future an entire history must be taught, both good and bad, thereby creating in our future citizens the ability to grow wise to the mistakes of times past in order to comprehend the ever-changing and oftentimes complex conditions of the present. To not teach the truth of what has come before is to leave behind the keys to unlocking the door of the human condition, essentially condemning our children into repeating the errors that continue to bear witness to unnecessary suffering, death, destruction, violence and war.

The fruits of our past mistakes can be seen in our history; the essence of the human condition lies written for all to see. American education serves no purpose if the result of its actions leads to a replay of years gone by; it becomes an exercise in futility when our future repeats the blunders of their ancestors and the follies of those who once led.

Brainwash education is the means to an end, a device that entraps rather than make free. It is a valuable tool to exert hegemony over the populace. When begun from the first years of youth, becoming attached and most difficult to extract, brainwashing to suit the state and the elite’s goals is a dangerous device. When combined with the 9/11’s of history, it takes on a life of its own, becoming a Molotov cocktail ready to explode in seething rage. The system would not have it any other way.

Made Ignorant to a World Beyond our Borders

American education makes no attempt to expose the wonders of a world existing beyond its borders to its children. The outside world and its plethora of diverse people are hardly mentioned, easily summarized in brief mentions of world history. The ignorance of cultures, religions, ethnicities, nationalities and beliefs that has ensued has made America a nation neither curious to a grand spectrum of peoples nor understanding to the vast complexities of an ever-changing world. Failing to understand what exists beyond our oceans, American children, through the damaging effects of the nation’s dilapidated educational system, become isolated from the world community and the fraternity of peoples.

It is understanding the world and becoming part of it that prevents the Iraq ’s and Vietnam ’s of history from ever arising. It is knowledge of a world and its people that creates peace and good-will. Ignorance, on the other hand, fosters only exploitation, indifference and arrogance. Iraq today is the result of this failure in American education. Abu Ghraib and its war crimes is the result of a system that isolates, indoctrinates and makes ignorant to the lives and realities of six billion people whose world is larger than that of our own borders. The debacle in Iraq is a manifestation of American ignorance to a world and its diverse peoples; Iraq ’s daily explosions are testament to its failure to understand the people it is occupying and the anger emanating from the arrogance and ignorance of its soldiers.

The failure of American education to teach about a world existing beyond the confines of its own grandeur is exemplified today by an Iraq that is the catalyst to a most dangerous era in American history. Societies that are ignorant to the greater world around them suffer a dereliction of humanity and the far reaching implications their actions tend to unsettle. From the actions of ignorance rise the reactions of those ignored.

America ’s failure to educate its children to a world beyond its shores, in a world coming closer together is a travesty, and an error, especially for an Empire whose grip is all-encompassing, its power circulating around the globe. A leader of nations and an Empire such as America must learn and understand the world it dominates and the people it controls. For it to govern wisely its citizens must be brought into the sphere of a world community that is both heterogeneous and aware of the dangers the Pax Americana is capable of releasing. For it to avoid the wrath seen today its ambassadors and representatives must be educated to the songs of the world and the tunes of human civilization.

In order to prevent the never-before seen levels of hatred, animosity and anger directed at the United States and the blowback that is now being manifested the American education system must open itself up to the outside world. If it remains isolationist and ignorant, preferring to enclose itself in the bubble it continues to lock itself into, the karma we are witnessing will be but the tip of the iceberg. Ignorance leading to exploitation can only go so far; a world beyond our borders exists, and must be taught, learned and understood.

For if the Empire’s people fail to grasp the lands and peoples beyond their borders, preferring instead to live in the comfort of their own existence and the ignorance of their upbringing a world that was never known will be once more forgotten, and the blowback birthed by our ancestors will be made that much more difficult to comprehend.

Separate and Unequal

The purposeful inequality inherent in American education is created by design, fostered by an elite that manipulates in society a separation between rich and working class. It is abundantly clear that education systems in America are nowhere near to being equal. On the contrary, their inequality stems from a government and the elite that control it that seek to maintain the status quo of preventing millions of children from ever advancing beyond the caste they are born into. Without opportunity, ability is wasted and those capable of threatening the power structure as it exists at present are left to rot in the cesspool created by those social engineers sealing the destiny of millions of Americans.

Maintaining separate and unequal education systems assures the elite, government and corporations of millions of exploitable slaves that through no fault of their own are condemned to a life stuck in the working class, living off low wages, surviving on a day to day basis, uneducated and ignorant to the exploitation they are subjected to. The millions that fate has placed in corrosive school districts starving for pennies from the government are subjected to an education that is shameful at best and a crime against humanity at worst. Unequal distribution of tax schemes makes it impossible for children born into poor neighborhoods from ever getting the education the few elite children of privilege are guaranteed.

With rotting school districts that cannot afford good teachers, books, buildings, administrators and a semblance of hope children receive substandard education levels that forever alter their ability to learn and advance in society. When this is compounded year after year the ramifications are severe, serving to quash all ability and potential opportunity. It is this level of education most American children, both urban and rural, are subjected to, forced to endure the worst inequality of teaching found in the developed world.

When the elite that run the nation are deciding futures, however, this is to be expected. Their corporations need low-class workers; their armies need soldiers; their government needs slaves. By maintaining separate and unequal education systems, in essence two completely different systems, one reserved for privilege, the other for future serfs, the elite are assured of control, exploitation, power and growing wealth, mostly at the hands of the slaves they have created. The masses, having been trained from birth to become the slaves of the nation’s capitalists, are subjected to years of subservient education mechanisms that encourage and indeed guide us toward exploitation. The dreams and hopes of childhood are thus eviscerated as the reality of the environment and education we are born into collides with once creative talents and utopian goals.

Born into environments offering the worst in American education creates in the masses ignorance to the plight our government is subjecting us to. We are made unaware and become indifferent to the massive crime being perpetrated by government officials who help foster separate and unequal education and even encourage it by their unwillingness to make right what has been made wrong. The continued apathy of our government to the vastly different levels of education is proof that it is complicit in the manufacturing of an entire class of slaves produced to be exploited by the powerful few. To continue a system that is so dastardly in its scope and so damaging to millions is to acknowledge the purposeful disregard our government has in alleviating a reality that in this nation at least does not need to exist. It is shameful, it is wrong, it is a crime.

An assembly line of slaves has been created, socially engineered through years of manipulations and exploitations, breeding ignorance, robbing opportunity, erasing talent and harvesting entire generations of worker bees. For America the beautiful needs slaves to work and enrich the elite, it needs soldiers to wage war in the name of capitalism, it needs ignorance to continue its sovereignty and castes from which to maintain the balance that has kept those in power at the top for generations.

Separate and unequal, the secret ingredients to the American juggernaut; separate and unequal, the oil that assures the mighty engine of capitalism from ever corroding and malfunctioning. Through the backs of the masses the elite survive; through the exploitation of the many the few thrive.

Leaving all Working and Middle Class Children Behind

The dumbing down of America continues its injurious path through the policies of George Bush, who is quietly decimating the talents and energies of the nation’s youth. Wishing all children to become the bumbling idiot that characterizes his existence, his policies have washed away what remained of viable education. The dumbing down of America has only picked up its pace as children today are being deprived of the tools necessary to think for themselves. Forced by the government to teach to standardized tests, school districts are erasing the arts and other important classes from curriculum. Instead, teachers are being forced to prepare their students to passing the test that determines financial reward or punishment.

This form of education is leveling critical thinking, analytical skills and free-thinking minds. It is destroying education as we know it, along with the futures of millions of children who are being made automatons lacking a mind to question the world around them. This sinister mechanism is purposefully being implemented to dumb down American children. It is yet another tool those in power are using to create a nation devoid of free thought.

Teaching to the test entails sacrificing all subject matter not included in the test itself. As a result, vital tools such as music, art, languages, social sciences, philosophy, health and other liberal arts are being ignored, thrown away into dark closets of indifference. Worthy teachers now have their hands tied down, unable to bring out the blossoms of talent from their students. Instead, they must partake in the manipulation of America ’s children, becoming the instructors to a new generation of students those in power want desperately to transform into unthinking sentinels easily manipulated and controlled.

America’s teachers, already underpaid and under funded, battling a system eager to destroy youth, must now see the seeds they sow become homogenous crops succumbing to ignorance, eroding all semblance of individuality and wasting away once fruitful and talented lives. All children are being left behind, and American society will pay the ultimate and most severe price.

Fostering Ignorance, Creating Sheep, Cementing Decline

Children are brainwashed at a very early age to follow the dictates of the state, to become the obedient drones the state needs in order to survive. Curriculum programs prevent the free-thinking mind from ever emerging even as such paramount subject matter such as art, foreign language, music and philosophy are being eliminated or never implemented. It is at a very early age when these classes can make a such a vital difference in children, in essence granting an enormous head start towards a long lasting, happy life. It is at early youth that the human brain absorbs everything that is taught, it is at this stage in development when positive and all-inclusive education bears fruit. Yet American children, living in the wealthiest nation on the planet, are being denied the essential tools needed for human progress to move forward, individuals to prosper and for a nation to thrive.

Becoming an exercise in futility, education has become a weapon to militarize millions of children to the tune of the government, robbing them of the free-thinking and analytical mind whose questioning of government and individual thought the elite want eliminated. In today’s America , no child must be allowed to think or understand what is being done to them and the society they inhabit. Every child being taught must march in lock-step with millions more, becoming benign drones made ignorant to a process robbing them of their existence, neither challenging those in power or absorbing the ingredients necessary to develop a mind that may one day become the ultimate weapon for freedom and salvation.

As in all state systems, in order to have subservient citizens, the young must be programmed early on to the dictates of those in power. In America , these entities are the elite capitalists that have transformed democracy into corporatism. Entire generations of people have become an enormous herd of sheep, unaware of the slavery that grips them and the exploitation that befalls every waking hour. The corporatist state has accomplished the ignorance of its citizens, now ruling unobstructed and unaccountable, free to unleash wave after wave of crimes, both upon those it rules and those it conquers.

The majority of the American people now fail to question authority, debate policy, seek accountability or demand answers. Indifferent we have become to the dangerous ways of our government or to our own plight. Every generation has seen its ability to understand, question and analyze dwindle with each subsequent decade that passes. Soon the day will arrive when complete drones our descendants become, completely subservient to the will of the rulers, shackled in chains of ignorance, transformed into exploitable energies deficient of free-thinking minds.

The only vestige of freedom left is that of the mind, a realm never before touched by the claws of the state and the powerful. Yet this freedom is disappearing, for the state has found a way to annihilate a freedom once thought untouchable. Free-thought is fading fast from an American psyche that once espoused the belief in the power of the individual. In its wake lie hundreds of millions of energies whose minds have been captured in a war we failed to realize we were being subjected to. Free-thinking minds are being made extinct, suffering from years of social engineering and artificial conditioning.

More and more we are failing to understand what is being done to us and our children. With each passing day the corporate Leviathan absorbs more of our collective brain, inculcating us with garbage, conditioning us to its version of what American society should be. The wretched symptoms of capitalism are devouring our very existence, making us the sheeple the system feeds off of. We are being herded to the slaughterhouse, ready to be gutted and mass produced, sold to the hungry wolves and vultures concomitantly ready to feast off our once vibrant energies.

Tell the Children the Truth

The time has come to tell the children the truth. The time has come to tell them that most are condemned to castes, unable to escape, destined to be exploited, destined for modern man’s version of slavery. The time has come to tell the children of privilege that they are being trained to become the exploiters of the masses, becoming condoners of subservience, inequality, injustice, corruption and thievery.

We must awaken from this lethargy catapulting us into a future missing freedom and individuality, happiness and a worthy existence. The dumbing down of America cannot be allowed to continue, for if it does, George Bush’s vision will become George Orwell’s reality. It is time to tell the children the truth. It is time to liberate ourselves from a system that is making us all automatons. Freedom of thought, freedom of mind and freedom to live are our goals. The elimination of the virus inflicting ignorance and enslavement upon us and our children should be our mission.

The time to retake the American mind is upon us, and this starts with telling our children the truth of what our indifference, subservience and inability to act is condemning them to. For knowledge is power, the kryptonite that weakens the energy leading us to nothingness. They know this, which is why the dumbing down of America is taking place. Knowledge is a threat to their existence and continued control, which is why they want it destroyed. Education is liberation, something they want desperately to avoid. An enlightened populace is their nightmare; an ignorant citizenry their wet dream.

It is through the awakening of the masses that mountains are moved and canyons crossed. It is through the slumber of the masses that evil awakens. It is through our collective energy that those in power have no future and no place left to hide. The future of America is in our hands: either the dumbing down continues or the awakening commences.

Recommend this article...


Thursday, March 29, 2007

IOF Beating a Palestinian School Boy: Video

"This is an example of what the Palestinans, who were driven out of their land, have to endure each and every day by the beasts occupying the land of Palestine."

This is a video posted three days ago of the IOF beating a Palestinian school boy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Toronto Hip Hop artist Mohammad Ali Aumeer Performs at War Resisters Rally

History is repeating itself in more than one way vis a vis the Viet Nam war. Not only is the US involved in an illegal and immoral war which is imperiling the peace of the world, but GI's are raising up in resistance to the government sending them there. From First Lieutenant Ehren Watada and all the others being supported by Courage to Resist, to Iraq Veterans Against the War,
to the Appeal for Redress signed by over 1600 active duty military personell to GI's fleeing to Canada, the military IS rising up.

The War Resister's Campaign in Canada is helping those fleeing there. Please go to their website for more information.

Excert from their Declaration:

"During the period 1965-1973, more than 50,000 Americans made their way to Canada, refusing to participate in an immoral war. At the time, Preime Minister Peiree Trudeau said, "Thos who make a conscientious judgement that they must not participate in this war.... have my complete sympathy, and indeed our political approach has been to give them access to Canada. Canada should be a refuge from militarism.

Following the Second World War, the Nuremburg Tribunal set out important priniples of international law. Those principles established that soldiers have a moral dury , not a choice, to refuse to carry out illegal orders."

As of yet, Canada has not established legal sanctuary for GI's fleeing there from the US. Please contact them to see what you can do to help.

The following Youtube: Toronto Hip Hop artist Mohammad Ali Aumeer performs a couple of songs and discusses his efforts to help the U.S. war resisters who have fled to Canada. My tape ran out at the end of his second song. Recorded March 17, 2007 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

The second video is a clip from "Sir No Sir" about the HUGE uprising by the military during the Viet Nam war. Is history repeating itself? In this case LET'S HOPE SO!!

Olive Picking: Videos

The JAI Olive Picking Program is organized each fall in coordination with the Alternative Tourism Group (ATG). The olive picking season is short and often Palestinians are harassed or prevented from picking their olives by Israeli settlers or military forces. To prevent this, we invite internationals to come and pick olives with Palestinian farmers.

The program lasts for a week and includes cultural evenings, lectures and presentations, as well as opportunities to visit religious sites. In 2006 dozens of eager olive pickers joined the program from Asia, Europe, and the United States
(Joint Advocacy Inititiative)

Olive Picking in Palestine: Two parts

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Call for Imposing Measures Against the Israeli Medical Assonciation

Palestinian Medical and Health Institutions Call for Imposing
Measures against the Israel Medical Association

February 2007

Occupied Palestinian Territory
Whereas the Israel Medical Association's (IMA) medical ethics record on torture has been well documented, and the institution has never denounced or seriously confronted the Israeli government on its shameless use of torture;
Whereas the IMA has shown blatant disregard for the ethical issue of medical neutrality, with the IMA unconditionally defending the violations of medical neutrality by the Israeli army in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT);

Whereas the IMA is charged with being the executive arm of the Israeli establishment working to support political imperatives rather than serving universal medical ethics;

Whereas the IMA violates it own Physicians' Code of Ethics, which stipulates that the goal of the IMA is to: "Š maintain a suitable professional and ethical level in the medical profession";
Whereas the IMA has either contributed directly to maintaining, defending, or justifying oppression and wars, or has stood silently in the face of civilian deaths in the OPT and Lebanon; the killing, harassment and wounding of Palestinian and Lebanese health professionals on duty; and the destruction of the Palestinian and Lebanese health systems -- in the OPT as a result of destruction of the infrastructure, the apartheid Wall, and in Lebanon as a result of the massive destruction of infrastructure, roads, bridges and petrol outlets-- all systematic violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention;
Given that all forms of international intervention have failed to force Israel to comply with international law or to end its repression of Palestinians and the unjust war in Lebanon;

Given that direct appeals to the IMA have been unavailing, including those from both local and international health and human rights organisations over many years, and despite a mass of incriminating documentation;

Given that the World Medical Association, responsible for monitoring medical ethics worldwide, and which has as its current Chair of Council the IMA president, has repeatedly declined to take action as it is mandated to do;

Given that people of conscience in the international community of medical and health professionals and workers shoulder the moral responsibility to fight injustice, as exemplified in their struggle to abolish apartheid in South Africa through various forms of boycott and sanctions;
In the spirit of international solidarity, moral consistency and resistance to injustice and oppression,
We, the undersigned, Palestinian Medical and Health institutions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, call on world medical and health institutions to:
1. Immediately end cooperation with, and refrain from participation in, any form of collaboration or joint activities with the IMA.
2. Advocate for the condemnation of the IMA.
3. Support Palestinian medical and health institutions directly without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts as a condition for such support.
The undersigned:
The Medical Association -Jerusalem (Palestinian Physician's Union).
Maqassed Hospital - Jerusalem
Red Crescent Society -Gaza
The Gaza Community Mental Health Program
Arab Women's Union Hospital - Nablus
Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees - West Bank and Gaza (Palestinian Medical Relief Society)
Health Work Committees
Union of Health Work Committees - Gaza
Union of Health Care Committees
The National Society for Rehabilitation - Gaza
Near East Council of Churches Committee for Refugees - Gaza
Union of Agricultural Work Committees
Treatment and Rehabilitation Center for the Victims of Torture (TRC)
Patients Friends Society -Jenin
Union of Palestinian Handicapped
Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association
Health Policy Forum

Project Loving Care-Jerusalem
Palestinian National Institute for NGO's

PNGO Network
phone : +972 -2- 297 5320/1
Fax : +972 -2- 295 0704

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

PacbiUpdate mailing list

How America Can Aid Democracy in the Middle East: Part II

I. Introduction: Who actually wants democracy for the Middle East?

Do people in the Middle East want democracy? Of course. Ask them. They also want justice and peace. People that I’ve met so far in the Middle East envy people who live in democratic countries, though they may not completely understand the role of citizens in a democracy.

The struggle for democracy in the Middle East has a long and noble, albeit tragic, history. (See Part I of this article, The problem isn’t that these people are “backward,” unwilling to reform their age-old system of kings and dictators. The problem is that undemocratic systems are extremely difficult to change—especially when the rulers have powerful foreign friends, or when the rulers seem to be defending the country against the threats of powerful foreign enemies.

Is the American government on a mission to bring democracy to the Middle East? Do you believe in Santa Claus? Let’s examine what it means when the Bush administration speaks of defending “American interests” and working with “friendly” governments. “American interests” means big American investors. It’s not about the safety of you and me. “Friendly” governments are those willing to sign agreements that benefit American corporations: contracts that favor foreign investors, labor laws and environmental regulations that keep the corporations’ costs low. Truly democratic governments aren’t likely to sign such agreements; they would put the good of their own people ahead of “American interests.” That’s why the democratic governments of Guatemala’s Arbenz, Iran’s Mossadegh, and Chile’s Allende were overthrown.

Of course, it looks better if the officials signing on the dotted line have the appearance of elected legitimacy, like the “governments” of occupied Iraq and Afghanistan. But when it’s a dictator or king, like the rulers of Saudi Arabia or pre-revolutionary Iran, who is willing to “open up” his nation’s resources (and utilities and banking systems), then we’ll hear little about “democracy.”

For today’s big investors and the governments that represent them, free trade (to their advantage) is a better kind of freedom than democracy. Just watch—if the U.S.-Middle East Free Trade Area becomes a reality, there’ll be a photo-op of kings, dictators, puppet-government officials, and bullied “leaders” standing with Condi Rice under a big banner announcing, “Mission Accomplished.” The Halliburton Corporation will host the reception at their new headquarters in Dubai.

II. A Six-Part Program that’s good for democracy in the U.S. and good for democracy in the Middle East, too

We in the U.S. are having trouble holding onto our own democracy for some of the same reasons people in the Middle East are having trouble achieving democracy. The best thing Americans can do to support the democratic aspirations of people in the Middle East is to stand up for democracy and make it work here in the USA. I suggest a six-part program:

  1. Impeach the lawbreakers in the White House.
  2. Reform our election system (transparency, paper trails, improved access to voting for all citizens, campaign finance reform, etc.).
  3. Educate our people about the history and peoples of the Middle East.
  4. Bring the troops (and the mercenaries, and the military aid) home now and demilitarize the region.
  5. Start a truth and reconciliation process for the Middle East.
  6. Build support for international law among Americans and hold our government responsible to abide by it.

Let’s take them one at a time.

1. Impeach the lawbreakers in the White House. Initiating the impeachment process against “American warlords” Bush and Cheney is not only essential for defending our own Constitution but it is also one of the most important things Americans can do to encourage democracy in the Middle East.

By activating the impeachment process, we’ll set a marvellous example. We’ll show the world that a democratic people need not be cowed by would-be dictators or emperors who betray the will of the people, steal or squander the nation’s wealth, and glorify violence.

Impeachment is our chance to demonstrate how democratic institutions are supposed to work, and we can be sure the citizens of the Middle East will be taking notes! We don’t need a foreign army to invade us, battle the Secret Service, chase Bush and Cheney into hiding, tear their pictures off Post Office walls. We don’t want to hang anybody. We can take care of this ourselves. Impeachment is the non-violent, lawful alternative to bombs, assassinations, and civil war. It’s how citizens of a democracy defend the republic and bring corrupt, lawbreaking officials to justice.

There’s another way that starting impeachment can support democratic forces in the Middle East—even if the House doesn’t have the votes to indict, even if the Senate doesn’t have the votes to convict. The threat of impeachment is sure to rein in the administration’s illegal war-making, a profoundly anti-democratic use of coercion.

With their big supporters Bush and Cheney under threat of indictment, the shaky leaders of Iraq and Afghanistan (and Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, and Egypt) will have to be more sensitive to the will of their people and less concerned with putting into place the undemocratic economic policies demanded by the West. Also, without Bush’s threats, the leaders of Iran will not be able to use America as a bogeyman against those working for democratic reforms.

2. Reform our election system. Elections are widely accepted all over the world as the way to choose a legitimate government. Yet people can become quickly disillusioned when they learn that elections aren’t necessarily fair. We can do something about that.

Never underestimate the enthusiasm engendered by the promise of democratic elections. I was in Iran about a year after the popular revolution that overthrew the Shah. I can still remember my aged father-in-law proudly going to the polls for the first election he considered legitimate since the 1953 coup. We took his picture voting. Another election day, almost 20 years later, we saw voters lined up in every town and village as we drove back to Tehran from a weekend in the mountains. Mohammad Khatami, a champion of civil society, was running for president, and millions of people had great hopes for what a Khatami administration could do for Iran. Because it was getting late, we stopped in a village along the way and my friend, an engineer, voted for Khatami. When we arrived in Tehran late that night, the polls were still open because of the high turnout. So she voted again, this time in her own neighborhood for local officials.

When the people’s hopes for fair elections are dashed, however, the disappointment can turn them cynical and can poison chances for democracy. This past winter some of my Iranian friends didn’t vote in municipal elections. It was not necessarily because the (blankety blank) Voice of America was urging a boycott; my friends were discouraged. They complained that during the last national election the Council of Guardians had crossed names off the list of presidential candidates until the only choices left were Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad, neither of whom represented their views. They were surprised to learn that the corporate press and the Democratic and Republican party bosses do the same thing to us in the US, so that many Americans also never get a chance to vote for people who represent our views.

We in the U.S. have had the good fortune to be born into a democratic system that was up and running for a couple of centuries before we were born. We can’t really take credit for that personally. But we can accept the responsibility to continue to develop the democratic model. It’s up to us, the ones with the most experience, to work out the bugs in the system that make it possible to unfairly influence elections and even to steal them. And luckily for us, we can be politically active without danger of being “disappeared,” so we really have no excuse not to do it.

Election reform in the US can benefit democratic aspirations in the Middle East in another way. It may bring us representatives that are less beholden to special interests like the military-industrial complex, the oil industry, big financial houses, or those who believe in an expansionist “Greater Israel.” If it’s just us rank and file Americans speaking through office-holders who truly represent us, our country may stop trying to control the Middle East and may even stop funding the militarization of the region.

3. Educate our people about the history and peoples of the Middle East. I was raised in a strong Midwestern Christian environment where we were taught that God loves all his children—meaning all human beings—equally. “All men are brothers” was part of our creed. And you can bet there was no wiffle waffling about the Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” Or at least I didn’t think so, until the Vietnam War. Even now, I continue to seek that brother or sister inside every “stranger.” It wasn’t hard for me to marry someone from another country. My greatest worry was that we’d be spending a lot of money on airfare.

The world is smaller now, so more of us can meet “the other,” even if only on cable TV music channels. Tourists don’t usually get much chance to interact with the local people, but students studying abroad can be ambassadors of peace. Some American students are here in Tehran now, although they’re greatly outnumbered by Europeans and Asians.

Even if Americans are a little slow to travel, these days many are trying to learn about the Middle East. For example, quite a few Americans can now find Iran and Iraq on a map and even tell them apart. We’ve heard of the two major sects of Islam in Iraq, and, what’s more, at least a couple of Americans have pursued the issue further and discovered that the Shia are waiting for the return of the messiah.

Education means substituting accurate information and insight for myths, stereotypes, and racist images. It’s time to pull weeds like the following out of the American mental garden:

Images and stereotypes -- sword-wielding Muslim armies on horseback, harems full of exotic scantily clothed women, sheiks and belly-dancers, fanatics ready to kill themselves and each other because of religion, a great empty desert stretching from Morocco through Iran with nothing but camels.

Myths and pseudo-theories about Arab or Muslim history and culture -- they’ve always hated Jews and always will, they hate the West because of our freedoms, they only respect the rule of force.

Racist epithets -- “natives,” “swarthy” skin, “dirty Arabs,” “hajis,” “ragheads,” and the ever-popular “terrorists.”

Our ignorance hurts us more than these images hurt them. I’ve heard some very gentle women in Tehran ask American acquaintances, with a twinkle in their eye, “Aren’t you scared being surrounded by all these terrorists?”

4. Bring the troops (and the mercenaries, and the military aid) home now and demilitarize the region. When we say bring the troops home now, why stop with Iraq? Why not bring them home from all over the Middle East and Central Asia? What are they doing there? (See article by Medea Benjamin on the international movement to close U.S. bases: click here

When no American soldiers are in a country, people look at America and the West from afar and think, “You know, democracy seems nice. Let’s get that.” But when our soldiers invade and occupy a country, or live on big bases and seem to be taking over, people hate everything those soldiers stand for, possibly including democracy. Imagine, mom to little kid: “Behave or the democratic soldiers will get you.”

Redeployment of US troops within the region is better than nothing, but it's not the answer. The only way an American soldier should be working in the Middle East is as part of a United Nations peacekeeping force, wearing a blue helmet and under United Nations command. And bear in mind, NATO is not the UN.

While we’re bringing the soldiers home, we have to do something about the mercenaries, also known as “contractors.” Raise the shout for them to be sent home if they’re foreigners (like South Africans or Americans) or for their former employers to find them honest work if they’re locals. Mercenaries are a threat to peace and democracy because their job is to do the dirty work of the highest bidder, the good of the people be damned. Japanese banks in the U.S. don’t have the right to private mini-armies to guard their facilities and drive their executives around in armed convoys. Perhaps if American oil corporation executives don’t feel safe among the people in Iraq, it’s time to get the message.

Speaking of the highest bidder, the U.S. is giving a lot of military aid to countries throughout the Middle East, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, and Israel. What is the purpose of all these guns and warplanes? Are we preparing the region for Armageddon? Let’s support the ordinary citizens of the Middle East—and save ourselves billions of dollars a year—by demanding that our tax money be spent only for peaceful purposes.

Iran and Syria have called for the Middle East to be a nuclear free zone. Why doesn’t the peace movement in the USA take them up on it?

5. Start a truth and reconciliation process for the Middle East. Where more than in the Middle East is there such a great need to clear the air, end the cycle of revenge, and bring a genuine consensus for peace? We who have paid for so much of the violence must now pay for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

What would it look like? Not like Shimon Perez saying, about Israel’s use of cluster bombs against Lebanese civilians, “We committed a mistake.” Talk about a Freudian slip! Ordinary mortals “make” mistakes; what they “commit” are sins or crimes. “Mistake” is also the consensus word for what the U.S. did to the people of Vietnam and now of Iraq. Maybe we all need to ask the lawyers to leave the room so we can speak honestly with each other.

There comes a time when you just have to say you’re sorry for what you did and the pain you caused, a time when you must accept the apology of the other, a time to finally shake hands and try to make it up somehow.

As Americans face the fact that there were no WMD in Iraq and that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, many of us—including some of the soldiers—are feeling really awful. We will be better off as a democracy and a people if we are able to face the truth and restore our sense of morality. Denial isn’t the answer. Look what happened after the Vietnam War. We never paid the reparations we owed and we have been in denial for 30 years. So there was nothing to stop us from doing it again, most notably in Iraq. Denial about the 1953 CIA-organized coup d’etat against the democratic government of Iran and Washington’s support for the Shah’s dictatorship has resulted in Americans completely misunderstanding a whole nation of peace-loving people who genuinely want to be our friends in spite of it all.

Truth and reconciliation will help Israel to recognize Palestine, and vice versa, and will help them to work out a mutually acceptable deal. What will they do about all the war crimes that have been committed? How will they heal all the broken hearts? What will justice look like? Where will the refugees live and how will they make a living? If I know my fellow Americans, most of us are ready to support the process that will find solutions. Most of us are tired of throwing our weight around and stoking the flames.

Most of the Middle East has had an ugly, greedy, violent history in the last century, with millions of families affected by war, exile, torture, disappearances. Rather than supporting those who would add more families to the list of victims, Americans could set our intention now to let the healing begin.

6. Build support for international law among Americans and hold our government responsible to abide by it. Americans know little of international law, and some seem fearful that international law is a threat to our citizens, our soldiers or our sovereignty. But in the Middle East, international law is widely respected. A few days ago, a Palestinian leader pledged to abide by international law and avoid the slaying of civilians. He called on Israel to do the same. (No one claims that abiding by international law is easy.) Mahmoud Ahmedinejad frequently refers to Iran’s rights under international law, and on that point I’ve yet to hear any Iranian disagree with him. The civil society movement is growing in the Middle East. It calls for the rule of law within countries and in the international arena.

The current U.S. administration is not part of the civil society movement. It is perceived as holding international law in disdain, picking and choosing only specific items that suit their purposes. Bush administration officials go on TV and quote specific resolutions that they have managed to push through the UN Security Council over intense opposition. At the same time, they ignore the UN resolutions and international treaties that they don’t like, refuse to meet their obligations to disarm under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and disregard the fundamental principles of international law and the UN charter on issues such as preemptive invasions and torture. When has an American reporter been savvy enough about international law to call them on this? Building the consensus in the U.S. about international law should be a top item on the agenda of the peace and justice movement.

The basic message being sent to the world by the Bush administration is “might makes right.” That undermines hope for peace-justice-democracy in smaller countries and leaves Americans as unwilling accomplices to empire. Bush's vision of "Pax Americana" has nothing to do with democracy as we, and people in other countries, wish to live it.

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Rosa Schmidt Azadi is a long-time peace activist, an anthropologist, and a retired civil servant who's also a wife, daughter, sister, aunt, great-aunt, godmother, and the mother of two college students. After walking out of the smoke of the 9-11 attacks in New York City and returning to participate in the recovery effort, Rosa began working to prevent further death and destruction in other countries at the hands of the U.S. government. Participating in a peace vigil at the World Trade Center site for more than three years gave her the privilege of talking with thousands of people from all over the world about things that matter most. Dr. Azadi has earned two advanced degrees and is still learning. Currently, she's splitting her time between Tehran, Iran, and upstate New York.

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