Friday, December 24, 2010

Letters to the Editor - December 23, 2010

Another bad deal for Americans. A three billion dollar offer to Israel for a three month respite from the latterís illegal colonization of the West Bank. Thatís $500 million a week to bribe Israel not to commit war crimes. And the money wasnít even enough to get Israel to stop the settlements.

How many American teachers, social workers, and state employees would this have been? We face massive layoffs in our society because we are broke. Our corrupt politicians canít wait to break into the Social Security trust fund to bleed it dry for future workers. We are in crisis, but payments to Israel always come first.

Is our government, in fact, unduly influenced by Israel? Has the Israeli lobby in the U.S. learned to buy politicians as effectively as our major corporations? Have our disastrous wars in the Middle East been planned by Israel?

Obama, the consummate appeaser, is much more intent on pleasing the Israeli lobby than the American people. Congress grovels just as pathetically to Zionist influences and money. What politician would dare suggest that the Israeli invasion of Gaza was a killing spree, a blood bath? What politician beside former president Jimmy Carter would even whisper the word ìapartheid.î

Our countryís leaders have abandoned their obligation to the American people in their consistent support and funding of right wing Israelís war and occupation agenda. In another era, that would be seen as simply treason, the betrayal of our countryís citizens in exchange for bribes from a foreign government. May our leaders one day face a jury of their peers: we the people.

Fred Nagel


There is a major disconnect in this country in relation to veterans. We are honored by everyone, all the time, until we speak out against the status quo of ongoing wars. Doing that is not acceptable to the Establishment. We had assembled peacefully and while were speaking out, 131 of us were arrested and taken to jail for standing next to the fence around the White House, the former ëpeoplesí house. This happened this past Thursday, the 16th of December. Veteransí For Peace from all over the country led a civil resistance there. We were joined by hundreds of other citizens demanding the end ≠ not tomorrow or next year but now ≠ of the never-to-end wars our country is maintaining, at the cost of innocent lives, at the cost of the degradation of our infrastructure, at the cost of making new enemies for us around the world, at the cost of this countryís soul. We were endorsed by every Peace oriented organization that heard of our plan, we were joined in being arrested by many luminaries like the war correspondent and author Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon papers renown, retired CIA agent Ray McGovern and many more courageous and moral citizens.

The weather was freezing cold, it snowed, and after a brief rally in Lafayette park where every one of us made a non-violent pledge, we proceeded solemnly around the park to the barricades in front of that wrought iron fence, accompanied by the sound of a single drum and ëTaps,í played beautifully on a harmonica. After mounting the concrete base of the fence, we stood in the snow for several hours, singing Peace songs, and delivered thousands of cards through the fence addressed to the President, with a Peace message on one side. On the other was a color photograph of a terrified child, covered in blood, standing next to the soldiers who had just killed her parents, with the statement ìthis what your wars do in our name.î

After being arrested, we were taken to the National Park Police station on the Anacostia Flats, across the river from DC. What goes around comes around, History repeats itself. This location is where the 43,000 Bonus Marchers of 1932 camped when they came to Washington to demand early payment of their promised War Service bonus. It would not have been paid until 1945, but the Depression then was murderous and the bonus money was desperately needed. People today have no real idea of its depth. President Hoover ordered Gen. MacArthur to remove them from government property when they came to the steps of Congress to wait for the Congress to vote on their demands; ìRemove them but donít pursue them.î MacArthur convinced himself those WW1 vets were Communists, and along with Majors Eisenhower and Patton, did pursue them across the river with tanks, fixed bayonets, Adamsite gas, and burned their camp to the ground. Four vets and one baby died in that 1932 action. Today, in this economic and moral recession brought on by the greed of the fat cats, we veterans are demanding our Bonus ≠ peace now!

As a combat Infantry veteran, as a person with a conscience, being there with my brothers and sisters was gratifying and inspiring. We are keeping the spirit of Resistance alive. I am ashamed of what my country has been doing to itself and to others with lies and terror. We will resist until the ëleadersí of this nation and the ëleadersí of the corporations that thrive on the suffering of human beings stop their hideous activities. We will continue to resist evil, our numbers will grow, our influence will expand as other people with a conscience realize that keeping silent ties them to the ìgood Germansî of WW2. We will win, maybe not tomorrow, but we are committed and we will win. Truth will overcome looking the other way.

Jay Wenk


As war and climate disasters cause more pain and death around the world, we try at this time of year to look for ways to give a little something to alleviate the suffering that our taxes and carbon consumption have caused. I have grown cynical about the big ìNGOî charities that suck money into their own bloated bureaucracies. The Woodstock community is lucky to have several activists who work tirelessly all through the year to make the earth a better place, whose organizations are exemplary of that adage ìsmall is beautiful.î If you are writing year-end checks, think local:

ïThe Haitian Peopleís Support Project goes directly to amazing work that Terry and Pierre Leroy do in that tormented country: HPSP, PO. Box 476, Woodstock NY 12498

ï Woodstock International, a small collective that puts out one of the very best newspapers in the country with international information from a local perspective. Woodstock International, PO Box 1362 Woodstock, 12498

ï Mary Frankís tireless dedication to solar cooking has introduced many of us to the wonderful work of Solar Cookers International, c/o Mary Frank, PO Box 695 Bearsville, NY 12409.

Give the gift of solidarity with the global community this year!

DeeDee Halleck


I was in Bethlehem two years ago at Christmas when the gates to the city were opened for the arrival of the Jerusalem Patriarch. Families lined the streets to the Nativity Church, chanting carols and singing Jingle Bells, as they viewed joyous parades of bands and scouts. After the two-week holiday (when West Bank Palestinians fortunate enough to receive permits from the Israeli authority could cross into Jerusalem), the gates were closed and the 25-foot high Separation Wall surrounding Bethlehem assumed once more its massive and crushing reality.

Last spring, on returning to Bethlehem, I saw an animated film Warda (Flower), that Palestinian children had created based on Little Red Riding Hood. Every day Warda brings her grandmother a basket of home-made goodies. One day, Warda finds a huge Wall obstructing her path. She sits by its side and cries. An artist arrives and gives Warda a pencil and she draws a bird on the Wall. The bird comes alive and Warda hops on its back and flies over the Wall. Every day from then on, Warda reaches her grandmother by flying on the birdís back. A caption reads: ìBuilding of the dividing wall began June 2002. It encloses much Palestinian land and separates many people from their villages and families.î

The children of Bethlehem and their families are experiencing terrible segregation built into Israelís Wall: confiscation of land and water; settlement building (There are now 27 settlements surrounding Bethlehem); devastation of forests and orchards; demolition of homes by US Caterpillar tractors swathing paths for the Wall, the settlements, by-pass roads that cross their land.

Uprooted in 1948, many Christians from Ein Karem (where the Holocaust Museum was later built), fled to become refugees in Bethlehem. Since 1967, along with Muslim families, they have struggled under Israeli military occupation. More than six million Palestinian Christians and Muslims have emigrated and only two percent of the Christian community remains.

Uri Avnery, famed Israeli peace activist, spoke two years ago at a conference in Bethlehem: ìI apologize for the terrible things done in the name of Israel to the Palestinian people. Iím ashamed for the killing. Iím ashamed for the settlements that are being enlarged while our government speaks about peace...î

The carols we sing today ìOh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie...î belie a sacred space that exists no more. Bethlehem ≠ like the other villages and cities in the West Bank and Gaza ≠ has been made into a ghetto that confines its Palestinian Christians and Muslims and excludes them, burying their reality from the Zionist state.

Let us confront this Wall, the damages wrought by the politics of exclusion ≠ within and outside ourselves ≠ and work towards the creation of one state/one world where all people can experience equality and justice. Let us bring Bethlehem alive again with the promise that birth holds.

Jane Toby