Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Saturday, January 17, 2009

CRYING TIME

I'm crying now. I can't go on anymore, stuffing the feelings inside, without finally letting the tears come. The suffering of the mothers, the children, the fathers, the old men in beards, the grandmothers, has gotten to me.

Eleven hundred dead and four hundred of them children. Thousands injured. 1.5 million in emotional trauma. Lives cut ever so short, and for what? Canadian Michel Chossudovsky writes that it is about natural gas just off the coast of Gaza.

There is talk of a ceasefire now. Bush and Olmert work it all out in advance and run the carnage right up to George W.'s last days in office. Then they pull the double-switch right as Obama comes in office, saying they've worked out a plan to bring in NATO to monitor the tunnels where guns and food are smuggled into Gaza. The war-never-ends-crowd gets what they want - move NATO into a new conflict zone making the U.N. irrelevant. The fact that U.N. schools and food distributions centers were bombed in recent days is a key part of the message. NATO is to be the big dog now. Obama's "team" of Hillary and Gen. Jones (the former commander of NATO) are consulted and they of course agree to the package. It's all wrapped up nice and pretty. It's printed in the New York Times which makes it official - by all standards.

I've seen this script before. As I said to the 30 folks crowded into our kitchen last night, who came to hear Molly Little's moving presentation about her three months living with the Palestinian people in a small town completely surrounded by the WALL, this reminds me of the Sioux living on the reservations in South Dakota in the 1860's. They were a beaten people who had their land and culture stolen from them and when they dared to fight back they were called savages, renegades, and devils. The glorious American cavalry had come to bring them Christianity, peace, freedom, civilization, small-pox contaminated blankets, alcohol, hot bullets from repeating rifles, bursting cannon balls, sharpened tips of silver swords, and treaties written in disappearing ink. Anyone who spoke in favor of the redskins were considered devilish as well. So what if their sacred Black Hills were stolen from them. They got "progress" in return. What can be better than that?

Oh god, if you do exist and I am not so sure you do, let me be a devil. Let my heart and soul be with those Pales-Indians. Let me stand with the people always. Let the silence end. Amen.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A FEW THINGS

  • I have to admit that I am not feeling any real excitement about next week's inauguration. I am though following the swirl around the Bush shoe-throw that will be held the day before the inauguration and is being organized by Mainer Jamilla El-Shafaie who has been collecting shoes all over the place. Our house was a regional drop-off spot for worn out shoes. This morning we heard that Jamilla will be on Jay Leno's Tonight Show early next week talking about the shoe-toss. There is some speculation that shoe throwing might become an official sport at the next summer Olympics.

  • I have three big balls up in the air right now and yesterday, if I can be so bold, I did quite a nice job of juggling them all. I am in the middle of getting our Space Alert newsletter done and at the same time working on a leaflet for the April 3 Town Hall meeting we are organizing in Portland. Then I also have been finishing up a brochure for the No Bases Conference that will be held in Washington DC at the end of February. My co-juggler in this task is Nancy Randolph who lives in nearby Topsham, Maine and who is doing the layout on all three of these projects. So we've been throwing the balls back and forth to each other - and so far neither of us have dropped them.

  • Mr. Obama has made a couple appointments to the Pentagon during the last few days. One of them, to be Deputy Secretary of War (under Bill Gates) is William Lynn III who has recently been the Senior V-P of Raytheon. Another pick is Michele Flournoy who will become undersecretary for policy at the Pentagon and was an early supporter of Hillary Clinton for President. Flournoy was a research professor at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, where she founded and led the university’s Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) working group, which was chartered by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to develop "intellectual capital" in preparation for the Department of Defense’s 2001 QDR. In her confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee she was asked about the Poland and Czech Republic missile defense deployments and Flournoy said she believed it would be in the United States' interest if Washington and Moscow could agree to cooperate on missile defense. Translation: Russia should accept the deployments and we all walk away as friends. Bush tried that same strategy and Russia turned him down.

  • We are hosting a talk tonight at our Addams-Melman House by Molly Little, a student from Brown University (she is from Maine). Molly has been to the Middle East and has recently been doing organizing around the issue. Her talk will be entitled American Witness in Palestine: Roots and Realities. We expect a good turnout. It's 10 below zero here this morning so we might have to turn the heat on for the meeting.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

THE PHONE CALL & THE QUESTIONS IT RAISED


BBC TV Report: Children of Gaza Suffer the Brunt of Israeli Conflict


Should the American taxpayers provide Israel with more military funding so they can continue this operation?

Where are the critical voices from the Congressional Progressive caucus and Black caucus during this turkey shoot?

Why don't mainstream media in the US show these same videos that are now being broadcast by media all over the world?

It appears to be true that Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called Bush to order him to have Condi Rice stand down when the UN Security Council passed a resolution last Thursday calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza where now about 1,000 Palestinians have been killed.

Fourteen of the council's 15 members voted in favour of the resolution.

The US had initially been expected to vote in line with the other 14 but Rice later became the sole abstention.

"In the night between Thursday and Friday, when the secretary of state wanted to lead the vote on a ceasefire at the Security Council, we did not want her to vote in favour," Olmert said.

"I said 'get me President Bush on the phone'. They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn't care. 'I need to talk to him now'. He got off the podium and spoke to me. I told him the United States could not vote in favour. It cannot vote in favour of such a resolution. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote in favour."

So with that phone call now on record I have this question. Who is running the government of the USA? Is Israel, and AIPAC, truly calling the shots inside the halls of "democracy" in Washington?

How can we think for a moment that we have "freedom" in our land when Olmert can get on the phone and give direct orders to our president?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

REMEMBERING NAT KAPLAN

I began my speech to the Delray Citizens for Social Responsibility yesterday by saying that I had spoken to their organization more times (probably 15 or so) in my activist career than any other group. My first talk to them was likely in 1985 or 1986 and in 1987 they sent a bus load of their members north to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for the historic march on the space center that I organized while working for the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice. Over 5,000 people came to the event and Dr. Benjamin Spock was a speaker, along with Odetta who recently passed away. Following the rally we marched to the front gate of the base and 200 of us were arrested for trying to climb over the fence in a symbolic attempt to stop the first flight test of the Trident II nuclear missile. Dr. Spock was the first one over the fence.

Virtually everytime I have spoken to the Delray Citizens in recent years someone would tell me before the meeting not to mention Israel in my talk because it would start a fight. The group is made up of Jewish people, primarily from New York City, who retired in Florida. Almost all of them have had tremendously vibrant histories as anti-war, labor, and/or Communist party activists. These days, every time I return to speak, I learn that another one of my old friends has passed away.

So it was on Monday night when I arrived in Delray Beach. I was once again asked not to mention Israel and I replied that in their invitation they had asked me to speak about US bases overseas which is a timely and important topic. So I told them I always honor a group's request on what they want me to speak about but I insisted that during the question period if anyone asked me about Israel then I would have to give an honest answer. OK, they said that would be fine.

I knew this was the dance from years past. In the audience, after my talks, someone always would ask for my views on Israel and the internal-eternal debate would begin amongst the assembled. Usually it was one of my dear friends Nat Kaplan or Abe Feldman who would ask the question if no one else did. But Nat died a couple years ago and when I arrived on Monday I learned that Abe and his wife Rose are now in an assisted living facility and no longer attending meetings. So yesterday, much to my utter surprise, no one questioned me about Israel.

I once asked Nat how it was that he had developed so much sympathy for the Palestinian people and why he put himself in the position to receive so much rage from some members of his community when he spoke against Israel's policies.

Nat told me that many years before he had gone to Israel to visit an uncle who had a large holding of land. His uncle had several Palestinian servants and one day the uncle pointed out a young attractive Palestinian woman. The uncle told Nat, "I f _ _ k her anytime I want to." Nat told me he was shocked by the arrogant and racist statement and immediately began rethinking the entire Israel-Palestinian dynamic.

Nat had been a young labor activist in the 1930's and was involved in the creation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 required union leaders to swear that they were not Communists. Many CIO leaders refused to obey that requirement, which was later found to be unconstitutional. The CIO merged with the AFL in 1955.

Years ago, when I first began speaking to the Delray Citizens, they would draw 4oo people to a monthly meeting. Yesterday they had 50 in the audience. Each time I say goodbye I wonder who I will not see again.

But the person I miss the most is Nat Kaplan. He was a man of great warmth, humor, creativity, and compassion. We need more people like him in this world.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

WIPE THEM ALL OUT

Take a glimpse inside New York's pro-Israel rally on January 11 with Max Blumenthal.

Monday, January 12, 2009

INTERPRET BUSH

In this bit Bush says, "I'm the kind of person willing to take on hard tasks, in times of war people get emotional....."

I have long believed that both Bush #1 and Bush #2 were brought into the presidency by the CIA-oligarchy to start wars in the Middle East and they did.

George W.'s statement that "I'm the kind of person willing to take on hard tasks" gives me a creepy feeling that my wild theory was on the mark. He knew he'd never be loved so he tried to deny the "loud voices" and turned to reading Lincoln in order to justify, in his jumbled mind, his place in history.

Just a thought......the Bush family are hired guns for the empire. He's done his job well.

WHO BROKE THE CEASE FIRE?

I am heading to Delray Beach, Florida this morning to speak to a group there on Tuesday. Be back home late Tuesday night.

Take a look at these videos. The lies and distortions from Israel are catching up with them, even in mainstream media. Help put the pressure on for the truth to emerge.





Sunday, January 11, 2009

REPORT ON DC PROTEST


By Anne Gibbons

The dreadful news of the massacre in Gaza all week compelled us to attend the LET GAZA LIVE protest in Washington, DC yesterday. We were glad to find a bus leaving from Yonkers, a convenient location for us. We didn't know that it was organized by the Andalusia School, the only Muslim school in Westchester, which turned out to make the experience extraordinary. We were warmly welcomed and introduced to the many students and parents on the bus. Much of the travel time was spent talking with the principal of the school and an art teacher whose parents emigrated from Palestine in 1947. Many of the families on the bus were Palestinian. We and two women who weren't from the school were repeatedly thanked for our concern and participation. Adults and children shared reasons why they decided to come to the protest.

There was a great turnout from all across the country that packed Lafayette Park between the White House and the hotel where Barack Obama is staying. Speakers including leaders from Palestinian, Muslim and Jewish organizations, religious and secular, as well as Cynthia McKinney, Ralph Nader and others condemned the massacre in Gaza, called for an immediate cease fire, denounced the Senate and House resolutions that wholeheartedly support the Israeli assault and stressed that an end to the occupation is critical for peace in the middle east and the world.

We came away from this experience with a stronger understanding of how important it is to distinguish Zionism from Judaism. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all religions stemming from the same roots. Zionism is a political ideology that came into being about 100 years ago that called for the complete displacement of the Palestinians from their ancestral lands and is responsible for the ethnic cleansing and genocide that we see today. Without addressing this injustice we will never have peace in the middle east.

We need to educate ourselves about the US role in this crisis. The website "If Americans Knew - what every American needs to know about Israel/Palestine" is an excellent source of information. http://ifamericansknew.org/

Peace and good wishes,

Anne Gibbons & Ivan Braun
New York City


LONDON, ENGLAND


Woman speaker at London January 10, 2009 Gaza protest