why we must support cynthia mc kinney

June 25, 2008 at 6:37 pm (anti-oppression, anti-racism, middle east, women of color)

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The Obama Nomination and Why We Must Support
Cynthia McKinney’s Power to the People Campaign
By ALAN BENJAMIN
Ten days ago, Sister Cynthia McKinney, presidential candidate of the Power to the People campaign, issued a statement on the imminent nomination of Barack Obama as the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party.
In this statement, Sister McKinney noted that the Obama nomination was not business-as-usual in the United States, nor was it the result expected by the ruling class and its pundits. Hillary Clinton believed that she was the anointed candidate, and everything indicated she would be the party’s standard-bearer in November 2008. She had the corporate funding, the “leadership experience,” and the full backing of the central leaders of the Democratic Party.
Obama was being groomed by the Democratic Party elders for the future, perhaps for a 2012 or 2016 presidential nomination. For now, the best he could hope for would be a prominent spot in a Clinton cabinet — to help put out some of the political fires at home and abroad resulting from the rapacious policies of U.S. imperialism.
But Clinton’s “leadership” message faltered, and Obama’s message of “change” caught on like wildfire, especially among young voters and African Americans of all ages. After Super Tuesday, when Clinton expected that the nomination would be pretty much in the bag, her campaign was in shock. They did not anticipate the Obama-mania that was sweeping parts of the country.
The Obama phenomenon, of course, was not a mass movement with a conscious understanding of its aims; rather it was (and remains) a strictly electoral phenomenon with an amorphous concept that things cannot remain as they are. Obama was viewed as the best possible champion of “change” among the bunch of candidates put forward by the twin parties of the bosses. But the Obama phenomenon shook the Democratic Party and forced the commanding heights of that party to adjust their strategy.
Provocation and Containment
The first reaction by the central party leaders, with the help of a compliant media, was a staged provocation aimed at putting Clinton back in the saddle. (The biggest staging, of course, was the ABC TV candidates’ “debate,” where both TV anchors did their absolute best to “nail” Obama.) This involved featuring — and distorting — the declarations of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and forcing Obama either to back his pastor or reject him, with the hope that in either case there would be a “white backlash” against Obama.
This provocation did not produce the desired results, however. Clinton was not able to get enough of the backlash to give her a resounding lead in Indiana, or a draw in South Carolina. Her campaign had one bite at that apple and failed. The momentum for Obama — reflecting the deep aspiration for change in this country — was too great to stop.
The next reaction by the party hierarchy (and by the summits of the white ruling class in this country) was to accept Obama while ensuring that he would be totally pliable — that is, totally willing and able to carry out, unencumbered, the policy imperatives of U.S. imperialism in the aftermath of the reckless, cowboy politics of the Bush-Cheney cabal, politics that have undermined the image of U.S. imperialism worldwide and shaken the stability of the world capitalist system as a whole.
This tactical shift by the leading circles of U.S. finance capital requires, for example, pressing for a Hamilton-Baker Pan “solution” in the Middle East (diplomatic overtures to share more widely the load of occupation and containment, plus permanent U.S. bases and threats of military attacks, including nuclear attacks) and “neo-corporatist” solutions to co-opt the unions and movements of resistance into accepting the bitter pills of “free trade” and privatization in the name of a “New World Governance.” (A separate article is required to explain this orientation in greater depth.)
This meant pressing Obama to distance himself more and more from his Black base and to repudiate — perhaps not so much in his rhetoric but in the formulation of his concrete policy planks — anything that could lead to real change, anything that could put into question global capital’s quest to resolve its growing economic and financial crisis on the backs of working people and all the oppressed worldwide.
Hence, in the two weeks since Clinton stepped down as a presidential candidate, Obama has willingly and faithfully made a marked shift to the right, to assure the corporate paymasters of the Democratic and Republican parties that he will be a loyal servant of their interests.
The list is getting longer by the day. Here are a few examples:
* Obama “out-Bushed” John McCain in his speech at the national gathering of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), going so far as to claim that Jerusalem must remain an Israel city. His endorsement of the Israeli state and its Zionist-expansionist policies was unabashed … and unqualified.
* Speaking to right-wing Cuban exiles in Miami, Obama pledged to maintain the criminal embargo against Cuba. He also backed the illegal incursion of Colombian troops into Ecuador (troops sent in at the behest of the Bush administration), in violation of that country’s sovereignty, in the name of the “war on terrorism,” thereby sending a signal throughout the region that U.S. interventionism would remain alive and well under an Obama administration.
* Speaking at a conservative Black church in Chicago (thereby consummating his break with the Rev. Wright and his former church), Obama echoed all the rightwing’s racist attacks against Black men, to the point of referring to them as “boys,” without even bothering to provide any policy alternatives to the growing plight of Black America that has resulted in the increased criminalization/incarceration of Black men.
* Speaking to a panel of economists quoted in the June 17 Wall Street Journal, Obama said that he was “seriously considering backing a reduction in corporate tax rates.” (Obama has called on top pro-corporate advisers, beginning with Robert E. Rubin, to head up his economics team, which alarmed John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO.)
* Speaking to military officials in Washington, Obama did not rule out a military running mate and noted that “perhaps it may not be possible to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in the time frame I had initially envisioned.” (Washington Post, June 12)
An Independent Campaign Addressed to the Working Class Majority, to All the Oppressed
In her June 7 statement on the Obama nomination and in subsequent articles, Cynthia McKinney has sought to open a dialogue with the millions of people who still have illusions in Barack Obama and who will likely vote for him.
McKinney noted that the deep aspiration for change among the American people is what accounted for Obama’s surge in the primaries, and she went on to outline the platform planks that need to be implemented by the next president of the United States so that this long-awaited change can become a reality, and not remain an illusion. These are planks culled from the Draft Manifesto of the National Organizing Committee of the Reconstruction Party, a platform to which she contributed significantly. [See the June 7 statement on her website, http://www.runcynthiarun.org, for the full list of platform planks highlighted in this dialogue.]
McKinney did not say to the millions of Black people who celebrated Obama’s victory in the primaries as their own victory, despite his rotten political positions: “Take my word for it, Barack Obama is a sell-out and will only betray your interests.” There would be no dialogue possible on this basis, no way to help them shed their illusions in Obama and take steps toward breaking with the Democratic Party to support her Power to the People campaign.
Rather, she enjoined both Obama and his supporters nationwide to embrace the policy initiatives proposed in the Draft Manifesto because this is what millions of Americans expect — and need — from any candidate, especially a Black candidate, who aspires to the presidency and claims to represent “change.” But McKinney also made it clear that she was not forfeiting her own independent campaign in order to become an “advisor” of sorts to Obama. Quite the contrary. “Our platform,” McKinney stated in her latest fund appeal, “is the only one that genuinely addresses the needs and aspirations for real change that have been expressed by voters nationwide.”
Her challenge to Obama was unequivocal: If Obama were to support publicly some of the most important platform planks for change contained in this Draft Manifesto — and if he were to pledge publicly to take steps toward putting these planks into practice once elected — he would obtain, without a doubt, the overwhelming support of the American people.
But if Obama were not to support these specific platform planks, if he were not to pledge to begin implementing them once in office, Sister McKinney could not accept a situation where these vital policy issues were removed from the discussion table in the months leading up to the November 2008 presidential election.

“The message of our campaign is necessary now, more than ever,” McKinney insisted in her fund appeal. “Congress is on the verge of caving in on more funding for the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan; our country bombs Somalia and Pakistan with impunity and none of the major party contenders mentions it; the American people are losing their homes at a record pace, Congress is yet to offer a solution; and our country is even more mired in debt.”
This is the language of a genuinely independent campaign addressed to the millions of people in this country who are longing for a change and who are hoping against hope that Obama can be the vehicle for that change. It is the language of an independent campaign aimed at winning the working class majority and all the oppressed, beginning with the masses of Black people in this country, away from the Democratic Party to the banner of independent politics and Power to the People — to the banner of the Reconstruction Party.
Help Sister McKinney Qualify for Federal Matching Funds!

As a socialist and advocate of a clean break with the Democratic Party, it is clear to me — just as it is clear to a growing wing of the Black Liberation Movement — that Obama is not about to embrace any of the platform planks contained in the Draft Manifesto for a Reconstruction Party. In fact, Obama is moving at an astounding speed in the opposite direction in his quest to be the best possible representative of U.S. corporate interests. This is the name of the game in the Democratic Party.

This is why the Power of the People presidential campaign of Cynthia McKinney is so crucial today, why it must be supported by all politically conscious activists across the country.

Glen Ford, executive editor of the Black Agenda Report, put it best when he wrote in an article posted earlier today that, “There is a presidential candidate who is Black, a proven progressive, a person of courage and unchallenged integrity. Cynthia McKinney, running on a Power to the People platform for the Green Party nomination, wants to rebuild a real movement. Peace and racial and social justice cannot be achieved absent a popular movement, which in the United States must be led by African Americans.”
But support for Sister McKinney’s Power to the People cannot remain passive. Her campaign needs funds urgently. In her latest fund appeal she wrote:
“My campaign is not funded by the military-industrial-financial-media complex, nor the energy, pharmaceutical or other corporate interests that bankroll the parties of war: the Democrats and Republicans. I can only count on you, the people who produce the wealth in this country, to finance my campaign.
“I need your support to get out the political message of our Power to the People campaign to voters all across the country. …
“With your help, we can achieve our goal of raising the $100,000 in 20 states needed to obtain the federal matching funds. Please go to our website today (http://www.runcynthiarun.org) and make as generous a donation as you can. Then send all your friends, coworkers, and neighbors to this site, asking that they match or exceed your donation.  I do believe in the power of the people.
“Please help me put this first campaign milestone behind us, so we can get the Power to the People campaign on every ballot possible nationwide — so that we can provide a genuine alternative to the No Impeachment, War Parties and their candidates. Our communities deserve so much more and the Power to the People campaign is ready to deliver.  Your donation now will help us deliver with an impact.  Thank you in advance for your contribution to this effort.”
Can you make a contribution today to this fund?

— San Francisco, June 18, 2008

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Alan Benjamin is the Editor of The Organizer newspaper. To obtain a sample copy of The Organizer, please send a note to the email address listed above.


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Special Weapons’ Have a Fallout on Babies in Fallujah

June 16, 2008 at 5:01 pm (middle east, women of color)

today i feel like anyone who supports this war is heartless.  ii realize this a sweeping statement.

here is the problem: it is not just this generation of children being born (when they survive) with conginental deformities.  but that (i bet) we are going to see generations of children born still suffering.  imagine a woman who has not been born yetgiving birth to a child with illnesses and deformities because we bombed their country 50 years ago.

what are we doing.

there is a place a moment when ignorance is no longer an excuse.

this is our moment.

Babies born in Fallujah are showing illnesses and deformities on a scale never seen before, doctors and residents say.

The new cases, and the number of deaths among children, have risen after “special weaponry” was used in the two massive bombing campaigns in Fallujah in 2004.

After denying it at first, the Pentagon admitted in November 2005 that white phosphorous, a restricted incendiary weapon, was used a year earlier in Fallujah.

In addition, depleted uranium (DU) munitions, which contain low-level radioactive waste, were used heavily in Fallujah. The Pentagon admits to having used 1,200 tons of DU in Iraq thus far.

“Maternal exposure to toxins and radioactive material can lead to miscarriage and frequent abortions, still birth, and congenital malformation,” the doctor told IPS. There have been many such cases, and the government “did not move to contain the damage, or present any assistance to the hospital whatsoever.

A senior Iraqi health ministry official was quoted as saying Feb. 26 that the health sector is under “great pressure”, with scores of doctors killed, an exodus of medical personnel, poor medical infrastructure, and shortage of medicines.

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first writing since

May 17, 2008 at 12:29 am (anti-oppression, anti-racism, anti-sexism, middle east, palestine, women of color)

this poem inspired me to go to palestine.  It gave me a specific sense of where I beloned in the world.  Stretched across the world.  She wrote it after 9/11.  And told a story of her discovering the bombings in her home city.  For the first year I had a limewire edition of her reading it for Def Poetry.  I would cry.  And promise myself to write something that held the world as honestly.

suheir hamad:

today is a week, and seven is of heavens, gods, science.
evident out my kitchen window is an abstract reality.
sky where once was steel.
smoke where once was flesh.

fire in the city air and i feared for my sister’s life in a way never
before. and then, and now, i fear for the rest of us.

first, please god, let it be a mistake, the pilot’s heart failed, the
plane’s engine died.
then please god, let it be a nightmare, wake me now.
please god, after the second plane, please, don’t let it be anyone
who looks like my brothers.

we did not vilify all white men when mcveigh bombed oklahoma.
america did not give out his family’s addresses or where he went to
church. or blame the bible or pat robertson.

and when we talk about holy books and hooded men and death, why do we
never mention the kkk?

but i know for sure who will pay.

f there are any people on earth who understand how new york is
feeling right now, they are in the west bank and the gaza strip.

6. today it is ten days. last night bush waged war on a man once
openly funded by the
cia. i do not know who is responsible. read too many books, know
too many people to believe what i am told. i don’t give a fuck about
bin laden. his vision of the world does not include me or those i
love. and petittions have been going around for years trying to get
the u.s. sponsored taliban out of power. shit is complicated, and i
don’t know what to think.

but i know for sure who will pay.

in the world, it will be women, mostly colored and poor. women will
have to bury children, and support themselves through grief. “either
you are with us, or with the terrorists” – meaning keep your people
under control and your resistance censored. meaning we got the loot
and the nukes.

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vanishing the palestinians

May 17, 2008 at 12:16 am (middle east, palestine, west bank)

vanishing the palestinians

This was the narrative I grew up with in Britain. It was so effective that no one here doubted its truth for decades and Israelis themselves were astonished to “discover” the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza after 1967. However, in occupying them, Israel was back to the old problem of how to keep the new land without the people. Since physical expulsion was no longer an option, the alternative has been to make the Palestinians disappear as a nation by destroying their society. The history of the last 37 years of Israeli occupation can perhaps be best understood in this context. The Israeli colonisation of land and resources has strangled the Palestinian economy and made statehood unviable. At the same time, the destruction of Palestinian history proceeds unabated. One of the least noted aspects of Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon was the removal to Israel of truckloads of crucial Palestinian archives and documents from the PLO Research Centre in Beirut. The Israelis did the same in 2002 when they invaded Ramallah. Vital statistics, computer hard drives, population statistics and land registers were taken out with the aim of destroying the Palestinian collective memory, history and national existence.

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and i still think that zion is a beautiful word

May 17, 2008 at 12:07 am (anti-oppression, middle east, prisons, west bank)

When I was younger I was in love with the idea of Zion.  I associated it with the old reggae song -Dreamland- that still puts me in a good mood, the Idea that Einstein proposed when he called himself a Zionist,  aplace of refuge for refugees around the world.  I place that was a beacon of peace in a world of division.  A glowing model to the world on how people could live.  I traveled to the West Bank in 2003 and 2004.  Lived there.  And saw what the  dream of Zion had becomeby the Israeli government.  A nightmare of checkpoints, economic isolation (that Israel feeds off of by controlling theborders) dying children, graphic images, indignity, the daily toll of survivng under occupation.   We had a little saying: Its the occupation stupid.

So the candidates are fighting over who is more pro-Israel, which is translated as more pro Israeli government.  Even Barack has a hypocritical stance.  Hel’ll talke to anyone without conditions, except Hamas.  Hamas is a legally internationally-observed elctions, elected government.  By democratic choice of the people of the West Bank and Gaza.  It is the Palestinian government.  And Israel’s response is to lock the government up.  REally, during the spring and summer o f 2006, before and during the scuffle with Lebanon, they stole most members of the Hamas government and put them in jail.  We cant even pretend that is legal under international law or our agreed upon ideas of justice.

Then the Hamas injailed members said dont release us until you listen to the Palestinian Political Prisoners Movement.

The only countries that are allowed to be a democracy are the ones that the US supports.  And the US supports Israel.  unconditionally.

And so Barack, who wont talk to Hamas until the agree to a vague set of guidelines, guidelines which are more accusatory than achievable,

Look I dont agree with the vision that Hamas has set forth for Palestine.  I am an outsider looking in.  But really to say that Hamas has to say that Israel has the right to exist is ridiculous.  Chavez does not think that the US has a right to exist.  No empire has the right to exist.  No country has the right to colonize another people.

But to say that because the US representative of Hamas (who is this guy?  Does he live in the States?  Why is he not in jail?  Maybe he lives in Canada.  Or Timbuktu.) endoresed Barack means that he wont be staunchly pro-Israel is ridiculous.  The majorit of people around the world love Barack.  They invest in his message of HOPE and cHANGE more than I do.  But honestly after the past decade or two, we are all looking at the bottom of Pandora’s box.

What they  love more is that he is Brown.  That his father was African, that he spent his childhood in Asia.  That he knows the thirdworld with a first love, sweet, innocent, open.

Maybe he will cut them a break.

But this is why I love Palestine.  Or at least part of the reason.  Because they are the great unloved.  Even Barack cant treat their democratic choice as legitimate.   It is so popular and powerful to demean Palestine.

They are my hope.  All of the righteous underdogs.

And I still think that Zion is a beautiful word.

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lebanon fighting

May 9, 2008 at 7:58 pm (lebanon, middle east)

from Rami Elamine:

Below is an article form Al Jazeera on the latest situation in Lebanon. However, a little context is important, particularly since the article doesn’t mention the involvement of the US. While the General Strike called by the Lebanese confederation of labor helped spark these clashes, it was the US backed government’s decision to go after Hizbullah, albeit not yet by military means, which added fuel to the fire and may have pushed the nearly 2 year political standoff between the government and the Hizbullah led opposition into a more confrontational phase. However, the economic conditions that led to the calling of the general strike in the first place are also an important factor in all this. Just as in the rest of the global South, food and fuel prices have skyrocketed in Lebanon and so the key demand of the strike was increasing of the minimum wage from $200/month to $600 so that people can afford basic necessities. In Lebanon, this class divide coincides with confessional/sectarian divisions in that the largest sect, the Shi’a, make up most of the country’s poor. So its no surprise that they were the biggest supporters of the strike.

What the US has to do with all this is that its war, and divide and conquer strategy in Iraq has created sectarian tensions between sunnis and shi’a and divisions within countries in western asia and africa that didn’t exist a few years ago (Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc), causing massive instability. Instead of drawing the right lesson from the fact that its proxies in all these countries are becoming smaller and less popular and, therefore, unable to win militarily, the US seems to be pushing them to do just that–take out or cripple those opposed to US hegemony in the region by any means necessary. Even though this backfired in GAza, they did it in Iraq with the attack on the Sadrists in Basra on March 25 (which has now killed more than a 1000 iraqis, 3/4 of whom are civilians, mostly in the Shi’a slum of Sadr City) and they’ve been trying to do it in Lebanon since Israel’s failed war and invasion in the summer of 2006.

What’s really frightening and what really needs to be exposed is how the US backed, neoliberal gov’t of Fuad Siniora has begun really whipping up sectarian tensions. It’s always been implicit in their attacks on the Shiite dominated opposition but it’s now been taken to a whole new level and partly explains why the street fighting so reminiscent of the 15 year civil war which claimed more than 150,000 lives has begun. In what are unprecedented remarks by any political leader let alone the religious head of one of the sects, the Sunni spiritual leader Mufti Mohammed Rashid Kabbani said yesterday, “Sunni Muslims in Lebanon have had enough” and that “Sunni Muslims are fed up with such violations of their freedom and dignity.” He went on to call Hizbullah “armed gangs of outlaws that have carried out the ugliest attacks against the citizens and their safety” and accused them of “invading” Beirut and trying to “kidnap” the airport.

Sorry to go on so long but its important that people begin to get their heads around this before the US propaganda machine kicks in and frames the debate in a way that prevents people from doing something about this and justifies more wars and occupations in the Middle East.

Rami

_______________________

Beirut racked by street battles
THURSDAY, MAY 08, 2008
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/FFE67A81-6B2E-4573-9CCA-4582CDB93AE3.htm

Six people have been killed and 15 people wounded in Lebanon, according to security sources, as the country’s political crisis threatened to spiral out of control.

Fighting in Beirut intensified on Thursday, the second day of anti-government protests, after a speech by Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah secretary-general, in which he called a government crackdown on the Shia group “tantamount to a declaration of war”.

In several neighbourhoods across the capital automatic rifle fire could be heard as fighters in support of Hezbollah and the allied Amal group exchanged fire with pro-government fighters in the worst domestic fighting since the 1975-90 civil war.

Clashes were reported to have broken out in other parts of the country, with another seven people reported injured in the Beqaa valley.

The Lebanese army did not participate in the fighting.

But Robert Fisk, a journalist in Beirut, speaking to Al Jazeera, said that could change if the fighting escalated.

“If we have a situation where one group of people move into another group’s area – either Shia or Sunni –  then the army may have to take much harsher measures and that immediately raises the question of ‘what is the future of the Lebanese army’, because it’s made up of all the citizens of this country, not just one group or the other,” Fisk said.

Gun battles

“The fighting seems to be spreading,” reported James Bays, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Beirut. “It’s something all the political parties said they wanted to avoid.”

Thursday’s fighting occurred on Corniche Mazraa, a major thoroughfare in Beirut that has become a demarcation line between mainly Sunni and Shia neighbourhoods, and the nearby Ras el-Nabeh area.

The violence later spread to Khandaq el-Ghamiq, adjacent to the centre of the city.

Television footage showed armed and masked men taking cover on street corners next to shuttered shops.

Shootings and explosions were also reported near the office of Aisha Bakkar, the Sunni spiritual leader allied with the government, and in Ein el-Tineh where the opposition-aligned parliament speaker has his official residence.

Hezbollah speech

Fighting broke out after Nasrallah, in a televised address, said the political crisis in Lebanon had “entered a new phase” because of what Hezbollah claims are government moves against the Shia group, including launching an investigation into Hezbollah‘s private telephone network.

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“This decision is a declaration of war against the resistance [Hezbollah],” said Nasrallah.

“This decision [by the government] is designed to push the resistance and the military into direct confrontation.”

He warned that Hezbollah would act to stop any attempt by the government to dismantle the network.

Later, in his own televised address, Saad Hariri, leader of the Lebanese parliamentary majority and son of the assassinated former prime minister, put the blame back on Hezbollah, saying: “What fate are you dragging the Muslims to – are you dragging us back to civil war?”

He proposed a compromise solution spearheaded by the army – seen as neutral – to end the fighting and “save Lebanon from hell” and called for Hezbollah to lift its “siege” of the capital.

He also called for the immediate election of a consensus presidential candidate.

‘Calm and restraint’

In the US, the United Nations security council also called for “calm and restraint”, urging all sides to return to peaceful dialogue.

The council issued a non-binding policy statement, which lacks the force of a resolution, after a briefing by Terje Roed-Larsen, a UN special envoy to the Middle East, who warned that the situation in Lebanon was the worst since the civil war.

“At the top of the agenda at the Security Council today is the issue of armed militias in the streets of Beirut and elsewhere,” Roed-Larsen said, speaking to Al Jazeera after the briefing.

“What we are seeing today illustrates the necessities of integrating the Lebanese militias into the army. Unless this is done I fear that what we are seeing today will continue.”

The White House demanded Hezbollah stop “disruptive activities”.

Hezbollah needs to make a choice – be a terrorist organisation or be a political party, but quit trying to be both,” Gordon Johndroe, a White House spokesman, said.

“They need to start playing a constructive role and stop their disruptive activities now.”

‘Tension rising’

Unrest began on Wednesday during a general strike, called by the main labour union over price increases and wage demands, which quickly developed into a confrontation between supporters of the government and the opposition.

Protests continued on Thursday, with many roads blocked by barricades of burning tyres.

The Lebanese army command issued a call for calm, saying that if the violence continued, it would affect the unity of the military.

Rula Amin, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Beirut, reported that people were trying to flee the city.

“Some people are leaving the capital to remote villages, others are walking out of their homes with suitcases, heading for the airport by foot, hoping that any plane will take them,” she said.

“Tension is rising – today violence spread outside the capital … You can see more and more people on the street with guns.”

Saudi Arabia warned the opposition against an escalation of the situation.

“The kingdom urges the groups behind the escalation to reconsider their position, and to realise that leading Lebanon towards turmoil will not bring victory to any party except extremist external forces,” the state’s SPA news agency quoted an official as saying.

Fears that the political conflict in Lebanon could escalate into sectarian conflict were heightened when Mohammed Rashid Kabbani, Lebanon’s Sunni grand mufti, spoke against Hezbollah for the first time.

“Sunni Muslims in Lebanon have had enough,” Kabbani said in a televised address from his office.

The Sunni spiritual leader referred to Hezbollah as “armed gangs of outlaws that have carried out the ugliest attacks against the citizens and their safety”.

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black women, islam, and hiphop

May 7, 2008 at 4:43 pm (anti-sexism, islam, middle east, palestine, women of color)

there is a great article at racialicious

on black muslim women and hiphop.  Okay actually the article originates on Muslimah Media Watch. Gorgeous pictures of Erykah Badu and Eve. And a discussion as to what consitutues Islam. It reminded me of my first visit to the West Bank and haing a discussion with a teeenager muslim woman named yasmmina about he connection between Black Muslims and Islam. Malcolm X and Sunni. Yasmina who considered herself an Islamist thought of Islam as both a policial as well as a spiritual idenity. And while we did not have a discussion about the dogma or beliefs of the Nation of Islam and 5 percenters, there was a definite connection and appreciation that people would be willing to take on the label of ‘Muslim’ especially in a post-9/11 world.

What struck me was how much variety and diversity Yasmina assumed to be a part of the Islamic world. And the variety of wary that Muslim women have interpreted the Koran and present themselves to the world.

I appreciate that Eve gives gratitude to Allah but says that she cannot follow Islam properly. I think that in the Black community, women identifying as Muslim in many ways gives them a hiphop cred that is difficult for women to achieve. In that Muslims in hiphop culture are considered to be ‘deep’, ‘strong’, and ‘dedicated soldiers’ that allows for Black women to be able to move through many of the sexist assumptions about women mc’s. There is also a sense within the Black community that Muslim women are somehow moe socially protected and respectable than other women. (ya know there are ho’s and then there are queens).

One of my inspirations to live in the Middle East was the respect I had for Muslimwomen in hiphop. So that political connection that Yasmina and I talked about matters.

I am going to try to get the original article by McMurray.

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i should have guessed…

May 3, 2008 at 9:11 pm (middle east)

oh my god.  They are building Disneyland in  the Green Zone.  No really, they are building a Disneyland in Iraq…

I need to be shot.

The occupation forces are of the opinion that Baghdad is “lacking in entertainment”. General David Petraeus, is said to be a “big supporter” of bringing Disneyland to Baghdad.

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critic accuses hollywood of vilifying arabs

May 3, 2008 at 9:05 pm (anti-racism, islam, middle east)

Sometimes we have to be honest and admit how much pop culture affect our view of the world.  Affect how we view other nations, other sexualities, other genders, other ethnicities.  So often I want to think that popculture does not affect how I see others as ‘others’.  But we live in an ocean of stereotypes and we are fish not realizing how wet we are.  There, that is my soapbox for the day.

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statement of solidarity with palestinians arab and muslim women facing war

April 3, 2008 at 1:20 am (anti-racism, anti-sexism, middle east, palestine, women of color)

INCITE! ENDORSED: AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL FEMINISTS: STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINIAN, ARAB, AND MUSLIM WOMEN FACING WAR AND OCCUPATION

INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence endorses the following statement.

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Given that International Women’s Day coincided with the catastrophic events in Gaza , please show your solidarity by signing the statement below from the Campaign of Solidarity with Women Resisting U.S. Wars and Occupation.  You can send your name, affiliation, and place of residence to: solidaritywomen@yahoo.com

Piya Chatterjee & Sunaina Maira 

An Open Letter to All Feminists:
Statement of Solidarity with Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim Women Facing War and Occupation

As feminists and people of conscience, we call for solidarity with Palestinian women in Gaza suffering due to the escalating military attacks that Israel turned into an open war on civilians. This war has targeted women and children, and all those who live under Israeli occupation in the West Bank , and are also denied the right to freedom of movement, health, and education.

We stand in solidarity with Iraqi women whose daughters, sisters, brothers, or sons have been abused, tortured, and raped in U.S. prisons such as Abu Ghraib. Women in Iraq continue to live under a U.S. occupation that has devastated families and homes, and are experiencing a rise in religious extremism and restrictions on their freedom that were unheard of before the U.S. invasion, “Operation  Iraqi Freedom,” in 2003. 

At this moment in Afghanistan , women are living with the return of the Taliban and other misogynistic groups such as the Northern Alliance, a U.S. ally, and with the violence of continuing U.S. and NATO attacks on civilians, despite the U.S. war to “liberate” Afghan women in 2001. 

As of March 6, 2008, over 120 Palestinians, including 39 children and 6 women (more than a third of the victims), in Gaza were killed by Israeli air strikes and escalated attacks on civilians over a period of five days, according to human rights groups.[1]  Hospitals have been struggling to treat 370 injured children, as reported by medical officials. Homes have been destroyed as well as civilian facilities including the headquarters of the General Federation of Palestinian Trade Unions.[2]  On February 29, 2008, Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister, Matan Valnai, threatened Palestinians in Gaza with a “bigger Shoah,” the Hebrew word usually used only for the Holocaust.[3]  What does it mean that the international community is standing by while this is happening? 

Valnai’s threat of a Holocaust against Palestinians was not just a slip of the tongue, for the war on Gaza is a continuation of genocidal activities against the indigenous population.  Israel has controlled the land and sea borders and airspace of Gaza for more than a year and a half, confining 1.5 million Palestinians to a giant prison.  Supported by the U.S. , Israel has imposed a near total blockade on Gaza since June 2007 which has led to a breakdown in basic services, including water and sanitation, lack of electricity, fuel, and medical supplies.  As a result of these sanctions, 30% of children under 5 years suffer from stunted growth and malnutrition.  Over 80% of the population cannot afford a balanced meal.[4]

Is this humanitarian crisis going to approach a situation similar to that of the sanctions against Iraq from 1991-2003, when an estimated 500,000 Iraqi children died to lack of nutrition and medical supplies, and the woman who was then Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, proclaimed that the death of a half million Iraqi children was worth the price of U.S. national security? 

As feminists and anti-imperialist people of conscience, we oppose direct and indirect policies of ethnic cleansing and decimation of native populations by all nation-states.

In the current climate of U.S.-initiated or U.S.-backed assaults on women in Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan, we are deeply troubled by one kind of  hypocritical Western feminist discourse that continues to be preoccupied with particular kinds of violence against Muslim or Middle Eastern women, while choosing to remain silent on the lethal violence inflicted on women and families by military occupation, F-16s, Apache helicopters, and missiles paid for by U.S. tax payers.  This is a moment when U.S. imperialism brazenly uses direct colonial occupation, masked in a civilizational discourse of bringing Western “freedom” and “democracy.” Such acts echo the  language of Manifest Destiny  that was used to justify U.S. colonization of the Philippines and Pacific territories in the 19th century, not to mention the genocide of Native Americans.  U.S. covert, and not so covert, interventions in Central, South America, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean have devastated the lives of countless indigenous peoples, and other civilians, in this region throughout the 20th century.  The U.S., as well its proxy militias or client regimes, has inflicted violence on women and girls from Vietnam, Okinawa, and Pakistan to Chile, El Salvador, and Somalia and has avenged the deaths of its soldiers by its own “honor killings” that lay siege to entire towns, such as Fallujah in Iraq.  

It is appalling that in these catastrophic times, many U.S. liberal feminists are focused only on misogynistic practices associated with particular local cultures, as if these exist in capsules, far from the arena of imperial occupation. Indeed, imperial violence has given fuel to some of these patriarchal practices of misogyny and sexism.  They should also know that such a narrow vision furthers a much older tradition of feminist mobilizing  in the service of colonialism—”saving brown, or black women, from brown men,” as observed by Gayatri Spivak. 

While we too oppose abuses including domestic violence, “honor killings,” forced marriage, and brutal punishment, we are disturbed that some U.S. feminists—as well as Muslim or Middle Eastern women who claim to be “authorities” on Islam and are employed by right-wing think tanks—are participating in a selective discourse of universal women’s rights that ignores U.S. war crimes and abuses of human rights.

While some progressive U.S. feminists claim to oppose the hijacking of women’s rights to justify U.S. invasions, they simultaneously evade any mention about the plight of women in Palestine , Iraq , or Afghanistan .  Their statements continue to focus only on female genital mutilation or dowry deaths under the guise of breaking the “politically correct” silence on abuses of women in the “Muslim world” that the Right disingenuously laments.[5] 

Some progressives may support such statements with good intentions, but these critiques ignore the fact that Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim feminists have been working on these issues for generations, focusing on the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, class, and nationalism.  Their work is ignored by  North American feminists who claim to advocate for a “global sisterhood” but are disillusioned to discover that women in the U.S. military participated in the acts of torture at Abu Ghraib.

We are concerned about these silences and selective condemnations given that the U.S. mainstream media bolsters this imperialist feminism by using an (often liberal) Orientalist approach to covering the Middle East or South Asia .  For example, on March 5, 2008, as the death toll due to Israeli attacks in Gaza was mounting, the New York Times chose to publish an article just below its report on the Israeli military incursions that focused on the sentencing of a Palestinian man in Israel for an honor killing; the report was deemed worthy of international coverage because the Palestinian women had broken “the code of silence” by resorting to Israeli courts.[6] 

The implications of this juxtaposition of two unrelated events are that Palestinians belong to a backward, patriarchal culture that, rightly or wrongly, is under attack by a modern, “democratic” state with a legal apparatus that supports women’s rights.  Others have shown that the New York Times gave disproportionate attention to the Human Rights Watch report in 2006 on domestic violence against Palestinian women relative to its scant mention of the 76 reports of Israeli abuses of Palestinian rights by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Israeli organization, B’Tselem.[7] 

Similar coverage exists of women from other countries outside the U.S. that are portrayed as victims only of their own cultural traditions, rather than also of the ravages of Western imperialism and predatory global capitalism.  No attention is paid in the mainstream U.S. media to reports such as that in Haaretz documenting that Palestinian women citizens of Israel are the most exploited group in the Israeli workforce, making only 47% of the wages earned by their Jewish counterparts in Israel, and with double the rate of unemployment of Jewish women.[8]  Little is known in the U.S. about what the lives of Iraqi women are really like now that they are pressured to cover themselves in public or not work outside the house, nor of Afghan women whose homes are still being bombed in a war that was supposed to have liberated them many years ago. 

We stand in solidarity with feminist and liberatory movements that are opposing U.S. imperialism, U.S.-backed occupation, militarism, and economic exploitation as well as resisting religious and secular fundamentalisms. 

We also support the struggles of those within the U.S. opposing the War on Terror and racist practices of detention, deportation, surveillance, and torture linked to the military-industrial-prison complex that selectively targets immigrants, minorities, and youth of color.  We are grateful for the courageous scholarship of academics who are at risk of not getting tenure or employment because they do research related to settler colonialism or taboo topics such as Palestinian rights and expose controversial aspects of U.S. policies here and abroad. 

At a moment when U.S. military interventions have made “democracy” a dirty word in much of the world, we strive for true democracy and for freedom and justice for all our sisters and brothers. 

Piya Chatterjee, University of California-Riverside
Sunaina Maira, University of California-Davis

Campaign of Solidarity with Women Resisting U.S. Wars and Occupation
South Asians for the Liberation of Falastin



 [1] “The Tragedy in Gaza ,” Kinder USA, www.kinderusa.org. March 5, 2008.
[2] Weekly Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory : “Wide-Scale Israeli Military Operations Against the Gaza Strip.” Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, http://www.pchrgaza.org. March 6, 2008.
[3] Rory McCarthy, “Israeli Minister Warns of Holocaust for Gaza if Violence Continues.” The Guardian, March 1, 2008. www.guardian.co.uk.
[4] “The Tragedy in Gaza .”
[5] For example, Katha Pollitt’s petition, “An Open Letter from American Feminists,” posted at: http://www.motherjones.com/mojoblog/archives/2008/01/6901_an_open_letter.html.
See also: Debra Dickerson, “What NOW? Feminist Fatigue and the Global Quest for Women’s Rights,” Mother Jones. www.MotherJones_com.News.mht
[6] “16-Year Sentence in Honor Killing,” The New York Times, March 5, 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/05/world/middleeast/05honor.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Honor+Killing+March+5%2C+2008&st=nyt&oref=slogin.
[7] Patrick O’Connor and Rachel Roberts, “The New York Times Marginalizes Palestinian Women and Palestinian Rights.” November 7, 2006.
[8] Ruth Sinai, “Arab Women – the Most Exploited Group in Israeli Workforce.” Haaretz, January 2, 2008. www.haaretz.com.

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