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Gaza and the Loss of Civilization – Brian Eno

September 20, 2014 4 comments

Brian Eno Black and WhiteBrian Peter George Eno, professionally known as Brian Eno or simply Eno, is an English musician, composer, record producer, singer, and visual artist, known as one of the principal innovators of ambient music.
The following is a letter sent that Brian Eno sent via email to his friend David Byrne, after reading it he shared with his staff and he decided to published in his website. In an attempt to five more forum and audience to this important letter he published entirely along with a response from Peter Schwartz who is Brian’s friend.

Dear All of You:

I sense I’m breaking an unspoken rule with this letter, but I can’t keep quiet any more.

Today I saw a picture of a weeping Palestinian man holding a plastic carrier bag of meat. It was his son. He’d been shredded (the hospital’s word) by an Israeli missile attack – apparently using their fab new weapon, flechette bombs. You probably know what those are – hundreds of small steel darts packed around explosive which tear the flesh off humans. The boy was Mohammed Khalaf al-Nawasra. He was 4 years old.

I suddenly found myself thinking that it could have been one of my kids in that bag, and that thought upset me more than anything has for a long time.

Then I read that the UN had said that Israel might be guilty of war crimes in Gaza, and they wanted to launch a commission into that. America won’t sign up to it.

What is going on in America? I know from my own experience how slanted your news is, and how little you get to hear about the other side of this story. But – for Christ’s sake! – it’s not that hard to find out. Why does America continue its blind support of this one-sided exercise in ethnic cleansing? WHY? I just don’t get it. I really hate to think its just the power of AIPAC… for if that’s the case, then your government really is fundamentally corrupt. No, I don’t think that’s the reason… but I have no idea what it could be.

The America I know and like is compassionate, broadminded, creative, eclectic, tolerant and generous. You, my close American friends, symbolise those things for me. But which America is backing this horrible one-sided colonialist war? I can’t work it out: I know you’re not the only people like you, so how come all those voices aren’t heard or registered? How come it isn’t your spirit that most of the world now thinks of when it hears the word ‘America’? How bad does it look when the one country which more than any other grounds its identity in notions of Liberty and Democracy then goes and puts its money exactly where its mouth isn’t and supports a ragingly racist theocracy?

I was in Israel last year with Mary. Her sister works for UNWRA in Jerusalem. Showing us round were a Palestinian – Shadi, who is her sister’s husband and a professional guide – and Oren Jacobovitch, an Israeli Jew, an ex-major from the IDF who left the service under a cloud for refusing to beat up Palestinians. Between the two of them we got to see some harrowing things – Palestinian houses hemmed in by wire mesh and boards to prevent settlers throwing shit and piss and used sanitary towels at the inhabitants; Palestinian kids on their way to school being beaten by Israeli kids with baseball bats to parental applause and laughter; a whole village evicted and living in caves while three settler families moved onto their land; an Israeli settlement on top of a hill diverting its sewage directly down onto Palestinian farmland below; The Wall; the checkpoints… and all the endless daily humiliations. I kept thinking, “Do Americans really condone this? Do they really think this is OK? Or do they just not know about it?”.

As for the Peace Process: Israel wants the Process but not the Peace. While ‘the process’ is going on the settlers continue grabbing land and building their settlements… and then when the Palestinians finally erupt with their pathetic fireworks they get hammered and shredded with state-of-the-art missiles and depleted uranium shells because Israel ‘has a right to defend itself’ ( whereas Palestine clearly doesn’t). And the settler militias are always happy to lend a fist or rip up someone’s olive grove while the army looks the other way. By the way, most of them are not ethnic Israelis – they’re ‘right of return’ Jews from Russia and Ukraine and Moravia and South Africa and Brooklyn who came to Israel recently with the notion that they had an inviolable (God-given!) right to the land, and that ‘Arab’ equates with ‘vermin’ – straightforward old-school racism delivered with the same arrogant, shameless swagger that the good ole boys of Louisiana used to affect. That is the culture our taxes are defending. It’s like sending money to the Klan.

But beyond this, what really troubles me is the bigger picture. Like it or not, in the eyes of most of the world, America represents ‘The West’. So it is The West  that is seen as supporting this war, despite all our high-handed talk about morality and democracy. I fear that all the civilisational achievements of The Enlightenment and Western Culture are being discredited – to the great glee of the mad Mullahs – by this flagrant hypocrisy. The war has no moral justification that I can see  – but it doesn’t even have any pragmatic value either. It doesn’t make Kissingerian ‘Realpolitik’ sense; it just makes us look bad.

I’m sorry to burden you all with this. I know you’re busy and in varying degrees allergic to politics, but this is beyond politics. It’s us squandering the civilisational capital that we’ve built over generations. None of the questions in this letter are rhetorical: I really don’t get it and I wish that I did.

XXB

​And now, Peter’s reply:

Dear Brian and friends,

I am writing to respond to your note about Gaza and how America is responding. It deserves a response. My feelings and the actual realities are complex on several levels; the realities of the Arab-Israeli history and conflicts, global politics and modern American history/demographics. All three levels interact to create the current situation. And to understand the US posture you have to consider the history. Let me say, that, as you know I am an immigrant and child of Holocaust survivors. I am culturally Jewish, but with no religious or spiritual inclinations, an atheist. And I believe that creating the Jewish state of Israel was a historic mistake that is likely to destroy the religion behind it. The actions nation states take to assure their survival are usually in contradiction to any moral values that a religion might espouse. And that contradiction is now very evident in Israel’s behavior. Israel will destroy Judaism.

First, the history has two important intersecting threads, Zionism and the end of the Ottoman Empire. Zionism began near the end of the nineteenth century as a response to a millennium of anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe. An end to the diaspora and a return to the biblical homeland were seen as the only hope of escaping the persistent repression of places like Hungary, the Ukraine, Russia, etc. The British government with its Balfour declaration (1917) and the League of Nations Palestine Mandate (1922) gave impetus to that hope. And of course WWII and the Holocaust sealed the deal. The murder of 6 million Jews was seen as sufficient reason to pursue a Jewish state and the UN granted that wish with the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab States in 1947. The seven Arab states declared war and urged the Palestinians to flee. After defeating the Arab armies Israel made it very hard for them return. Hence we ended up with a large Palestinian refugee population.

Those Arab states themselves were the result of a combination of British/French artistry in drawing the maps of the post Ottoman world as well as the subsequent tribal military campaigns that left the Saudis in charge of the Arabian peninsula (vast oil wealth soon to be found) and the Hashemites driven up into Trans Jordan. Other than the war with Israel, the conflicts and rivalries among the various Arab and Persian factions have shaped Middle Eastern and North African politics ever since then.

Over the subsequent decades following the 1948 war there was a persistent Arab bombing campaign and two more large scale Arab attacks on Israel, 1967 and 1973. Until the mid seventies Israel was seen as having the moral high ground based on the holocaust and Arab behavior. But beginning with the Israeli incursion into Lebanon in the early 80s that moral position began to erode. Israel’s behavior in Lebanon was the first major example of aggressive action and attacks against vulnerable populations. Israel began to develop a more right wing and aggressive political faction of which Netanyahu is the worst current example. The settlements in Arab territory in the West Bank are the direct result of that evolution. (And of course the mass migration of the 1990s mainly from Russia) Suicide bombings and missile attacks were the Arab response. Walling themselves in was yet another ironic Israeli response. Today’s horrors are a continuing extension of those conflicts following a cease-fire of a few years.

Once Israel declared itself a Jewish state in 1948 the Palestinians had only three options; accept a division of the land into two states, accept being second-class citizens in the Israeli state or perpetual conflict because they could not win. The Arab states chose the third option because it is in their interest to maintain unity against their common enemy, Israel.  They could even share a common enemy with the hated Persian Shiites in Iran. So rather than helping the Palestinians develop by investing in education, health care, jobs, infrastructure etc. the Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia help keep them poor but well armed. Palestinian refugees would remain a festering sore in the Middle East to remind the world of Israel’s perfidy. And of course any aid that did come ended up in corrupt pockets not in helping development. The obvious counter example was Jordan, which developed itself, with little help from their Arab brethren and eventually made grudging peace with Israel. The difference in Jordan was good Arab leadership that recognized that Israel was not going way and war forever was not a good development policy.

At the geopolitical level several threads played out. The UN became a place where the Israel and Arab conflicts became a symbolic pawn in the Cold War, especially in the Security Council with the US on the Israeli side and the USSR on the Arab side (with exceptions i.e. the Saudis). That hardened the US position and associated in American minds Israel with our side and the Arabs with the other guys.

Even though I have no support for the Israeli position I find the opposition to Israel questionable in its failure to be similarly outraged by a vast number of other moral horrors in the recent past and currently active. Just to name a few; Cambodia, Tibet, Sudan, Somalia, Nicaragua, Mexico, Argentina, Liberia, Central African Republic, Uganda, North Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, Venezuela, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Zimbabwe and especially right now Nigeria. The Arab Spring ,which has become a dark winter for most Arabs and the large scale slaughter now underway along the borders of Iraq and Syria are good examples of what they do to themselves. And our nations, the US, the Brits, the Dutch, the Russians and the French have all played their parts in these other moral outrages.  The gruesome body count and social destruction left behind dwarfs anything that the Israelis have done. The only difference with the Israeli’s is their claim to a moral high ground, which they long ago left behind in the refugee camps of Lebanon. They are now just a nation, like any other, trying to survive in a hostile sea of hate.

We should be clear, that given the opportunity, the Arabs would drive the Jews into the sea and that was true from day one. There was no way back from war once a religious state was declared. So Israel, once committed to a nation state in that location and granted that right by other nations have had no choice but to fight. In my view therefore, neither side has any shred of moral standing left, nor have the nations that supported both sides.

So now let’s at look at why the US behaves as it does with a nearly uncritical support of Israel. You are right to criticize our media in so many ways, but that only makes things worse it does not really explain why. They are simply doing what they think their audiences want to hear. And they are mostly right.

Part of it has to do with post war American evolution and perceptions of Israel and the Arabs. When I was a boy in the fifties, through my teenage years antisemitism was still common in America. If you were Jewish you did not go to work for IBM or GE. You did not join the Navy. You did not go to Harvard, Princeton or Yale. I could not play tennis at my local country club. I regularly heard derisive, anti-Semitic comments from some of my classmates. But by the mid sixties along with the civil rights movement, toleration in general increased and antisemitism declined, almost vanishing. Support of Israel was part of that tolerance and was seen as a noble response to the Holocaust. The Arabs were seen as the oppressors and enemies of the US. That perception was given particular impetus by the oil embargo of 1973 and of course the Iranian revolution, even though it was Persians not Arabs, because Americans don’t see that distinction. (We should never forget that we have a Republican dominated Congress, half of whom do not own a Passport and see ignorance as a virtue.)The Israelis were seen as innovative and benign, people who made the desert bloom. To this was added the growing and ironic support from the US religious right who saw the route to salvation as the Israeli defeat of the Arabs leading to a second coming of Christ. (Of course, we Jews would have to convert to Christianity to survive the second coming.) 9-11 amplified the American antipathy to the Arab world. Seeing the delight throughout the Arab world at the fall of the twin towers did not endear the Arabs to the American people. We can add Saddam, Khaddafi and Osama Bin Laden to the pantheon of iconic American villains. The UN is no longer seen as legitimate and almost always acting against US interests.

So my generation and most of today’s American leadership grew up with the Israeli’s as heroic good guys and Arabs/Persians as greedy bad guys. The younger generation, my son Ben’s age (24) have a much more balanced view. Israel’s behavior in their youth, the last two decades, has destroyed whatever moral standing the Israeli’s had with them. In addition the pro Israeli lobby in America has been very effective in the political arena and their Arab counterparts have been counter productive. So our leaders who group up with noble Israel and evil Arabs and supported by Jewish political contributions are unequivocally pro Israeli while young people are more divided as is at least some of the Jewish community. Eventually demography will win out as a new more skeptical generation comes to power, a generation for whom Israel will not carry the same moral weight as it did for their parents.

I don’t think there is any honor to go around here. Israel has lost its way and commits horrors in the interest of their own survival. And the Arabs and Persians perpetuate a conflict ridden neighborhood with almost no exceptions, fighting against each other and with hate of Israel the only thing that they share.

It is also worth noting that the largest Muslim populations are not Arab and the largest, Indonesia is fairly peaceful. So it is not about religion. The Arabs have been engaged in tribal conflicts for centuries that have been from time to time quelled by Imperial powers like the Ottomans and strong men like Saddam and Ibn Saud. And in those wars they have committed horrors on their own people. Observe the genocidal destruction of Homs by Hafez Assad just to point to a recent example. The Zionists brought another tribe to the war. It is of course a tribe that is also divided, like the Arabs, in to factions, some of which are fanatical and war like and others more moderate. The comments about the racism of the Zionists are fair, but the Arab world does not lack for similar attitudes. One need only see how the vast number of South Asian, Philippine and African near slaves are treated even in the more benign countries like the UAE.

So given that history and current reality and even though I believe the creation of Israel was a historic disaster, I am a member of the tribe, (perhaps its more pacifist, atheist wing) I find objectionable the unique singling out of Israel for condemnation. So if we are prepared to boycott, condemn, shame, etc, the Saudis, the Qataris, the Iranians, the Egyptians, the Syrians, the Russians, the Nigerians, the Taliban, the Venezuelans, the Zimbabweans, the Sudanese, the south Sudanese, the Central African Republicans, and lets not forget the Americans and the British, all of whom are as guilty as Israel, then I will join the demonstration. (Two small things that might help would be if the rich Arab states provided some funding and development assistance for the Palestinians and if the Palestinian government didn’t steal all the aid.)

We find ourselves at a historic impasse. There is no way back. Israel will do whatever it takes to survive. They will not leave. And the Arab identity has become opposition to Israel. It will be centuries, if ever, before they accept the existence of Israel. So both sides will always rightly feel threatened. There will be no other state there but perpetual tribal war with an occasional truce. And in that perpetual state of tribal war there be ample opportunity for horrors on both sides. We can only hope to lower the level of violence, but true peace will remain illusive.

Peter Schwartz

Plugging Our Ears Does Not Serve Israel


by Oded Na’aman

An Israeli soldier poses with Palestinian detainees in an undated photo taken by an Israeli soldier and made available by the campaign group Breaking the Silence.

An Israeli soldier poses with Palestinian detainees in an undated photo taken by an Israeli soldier and made available by the campaign group Breaking the Silence.

I was born in Israel. I served in the Army. Israel is the only home I know. You would think my speaking to students at Hillel would be welcomed. Yet my presentation to students at Washington University’s Hillel in St. Louis last month sparked a storm of controversy.

I had been invited by J Street U and was graciously hosted by Hillel at their beautiful new building. As a member of Breaking the Silence, a group of Israeli combat veterans that collects and publishes the testimonies of soldiers who served in the occupied territories, I was on campus to discuss the practices and principles of Israel’s military rule.

In the days leading to my visit, many in the Jewish community called for the event’s cancellation, claiming our sole goal was to “bash Israel.” Jacqueline Ulin Levey, executive director of St. Louis Hillel at Washington University, backed the event. She did, however, impose certain restrictions, asking that I not show any photographs or mention any testimonies besides my own. Hillel also flew in an Israel Fellow from Yale University to “balance” my talk by debriefing the students before and after.

Despite the constraints, the talk went well, with a long question and answer session. After the event, Lawrence Wittels, the chair of the school’s Hillel board, congratulated me.

But in the days following, the assault on Hillel and J Street U escalated. Eric Fingerhut, President and CEO of Hillel International, subsequently wrote to members of the Hillel community defending the organization’s decision. “While we join with the majority of the community in deeply resenting the actions of the former IDF soldiers in Breaking the Silence, who come to college campuses in America to disparage the IDF,” Fingerhut wrote, “it is, regrettably, part of the broad tent of dialogue regarding Israel.” By housing the event within Hillel, he argued, the staff could control and mitigate an unfortunate debate.

I applaud Hillel’s work facilitating a broad dialogue within the American Jewish community. But Fingerhut and those whom his letter addressed, seem to be more concerned with their own feelings toward Israel — their “tent” — than with Israel. Mention of the actions of the IDF, the values to which Israel is committed, and concern for the well being of Israel’s residents, whether Israeli or Palestinian, are noticeably absent from Fingerhut’s letter.

I don’t doubt Fingerhut’s genuine concern for Israel. I am sure those who called for the event’s cancellation are also sincerely dedicated to my country.  But their concern does not protect Zionism. Rather, it threatens it. If Zionism is the dream of Jews to overcome a state of mere survival and forge our own destiny, then claiming that the occupation is necessary, that Israel “has no other choice,” is the betrayal of Zionism. Israel’s rule of force over a civilian population threatens our democratic integrity, moral character, and international standing –  in short, it threatens that future.

Israel is a strong and thriving country. We can take responsibility for our actions, hold our institutions and military accountable, acknowledge our mistakes, and correct them. We can forge our own future, but only by ending the occupation.

Naturally, our claims are met with doubt. But we encourage critical debate based on evidence. We have testimony from over 950 soldiers about their service, many of them on film. Incidents we exposed have been confirmed by the Israeli media and we have been invited to speak at the United States Air Force Academy. Carmi Gillon, former head of the Shin Bet, has praised our work.

The testimonies portray a system of control and expropriation of land that is founded on the use of military force. Arbitrary violence is of the essence of military rule, which cannot rely on democratic legitimacy.

Instead of an actual dialogue about our reality and future, they are content to have a conversation about the conversation about Israel. Rather than respond to what they hear, they argue over whether they should plug their ears. This may serve some staff and some donors of Hillel International, but it doesn’t serve Israel. It takes some chutzpah to claim that by silencing our voices you are protecting our own country from us.

Oded Na’aman served in the IDF between November 2000 and October 2003. Since 2005 he has been a member of Breaking the Silence, a group of Israeli veterans that collects soldiers’ testimonies from the West Bank. Oded is currently pursuing his PhD in Philosophy at Harvard University.

Dear Jon Voight: A letter about Gaza

August 18, 2014 1 comment

Does Jon Voight have his facts on Israel and Palestine right?

Original published in Aljazeera English: 13 Aug 2014 11:35

Gil Hochberg
Gil Hochberg is a professor of Comparative Literature at UCLA. She is the author of “In Spite of Partition: Jews, Arabs, and the Limits of Separatist Imagination” (Princeton University Press, 2007) and is presently finishing a project studying the Visual Politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Mark LeVine
Mark LeVine is a professor of Middle Eastern History at University of California, Irvine, and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Lund University. His new book is One Land, Two States: Israel and Palestine as Parallel States, co-edited with Ambassador Mathias Mossberg.

Jon Voight with Israel flag in the background

Jon Voight with Israel flag in the background


 

As the carnage in Gaza reached a crescendo in the beginning of August, Jon Voight, one of Hollywood’s most vocal conservatives, penned a harsh attack on fellow actors Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz in response to a letter they signed condemning the latest Israeli bombing of Gaza in which he accused them of “inciting anti-Semitism all over the world”. Many activists dismiss Voight’s letter as the rantings of an unthinking actor who long ago lost touch with political reality – a poor relation of conservative icon Charlton Heston. But Voight’s vitriol, and the narratives behind them, have for decades been quite effective in silencing criticism of Israel in Hollywood or among entertainers more broadly.

Indeed, they provide the intellectual cover for even more extreme attacks by celebrities like Joan Rivers, who in an “epic rant” worthy of an Israeli Knesset member, declared that Palestinians in Gaza “deserved to be dead”. This level of hatred mirrors the increasingly genocidal discourse against Palestinians within Israeli political and culture.

Yet it also gives cover for a growing blacklist by “top industry executives” against actors like Cruz and Bardem who dare criticize Israel publicly and without the level of deference that has long defined Hollywood’s treatment of the Jewish state.

Like most Hollywood scripts, the narratives on which the views of Voight, Rivers and other Hollywood Israel supporters are based are far removed from the historical and contemporary realities they purport to describe. Yet their power remains secure precisely because they are the same narratives used by the seemingly reasonable mainstream media and political actors – from the New York Times to President Obama – whenever the conflict is discussed.

Historical myths

There are three fundamental “myths”, to borrow a phrase from one of Israel’s founding revisionist historians, Simha Flapan, surrounding Israel’s birth and subsequent history that cohere the traditional narrative Voight is re-voicing. The first surround’s the state’s creation itself: “when in 1948 the Jewish people were offered by the UN a portion of the land originally set aside for them in 1921… The Arabs rejected the offer, and the Jews accepted, only to be attacked by five surrounding Arab countries committed to driving them into the sea… The Arabs tried it again in 1967, and again in 1973.”

The remains of an ambulance hit during the shelling of Shajaira

The remains of an ambulance hit during the shelling of Shajaira

 

Voight’s account is familiar but it is a distortion of the actual history, one that echoes the official Israeli narrative to the letter. In reality, after three decades of increasing intercommunal conflict marked by periodic bursts of violence and growing Jewish immigration, the UN voted to partition Palestine in 1947.

Already by December 1947 a civil had erupted, in which both Zionist and Arab forces engaged in regular attacks and even terrorism, with coordinated Zionist attacks on Palestinian villages aimed at Judaising strategic parts of the country picking up speed by the beginning of spring 1948.

By May 15, the date of Israel’s establishment, tens of thousands of Palestinians had already been forced into exile. As Oxford University professors Avi Shlaim and Eugene Rogan demonstrated in their book The War for Palestine, Rewriting the History of 1948, Arab leaders either sent mostly untrained and badly armed forces whose primary goals were to prevent rather than support the creation of a Palestinian state. Jordan had even secretly agreed to a division of most of the territory (except Jerusalem) with the Zionist leadership.

The second myth surrounds the Six Day War. Voigt’s description of 1967 as the “Arab trying again” is familiar yet similarly inaccurate. There were certainly many threats emanating from Arab capitals in the late spring of 1967, but ultimately it was Israel that launched a “sneak attack”, one in which US and Israeli intelligence agencies correctly assumed would wipe out the combined forces of the surrounding states in roughly five days.

Whatever its motivations, 1967 became a war of conquest and expansion. Israel could have maintained a military occupation indefinitely, if security was its main concern. Instead, it began a process of settlement, which in Jerusalem and the West Bank has intensified without pause to the present day. Gaza, which Voight and other Israel supporters argues was “give[n] the Palestinians… as a peace gesture”. Gaza was never a gift Israel could “give” to Palestinians. It was not only occupied under international law but legally inseparable from the West Bank. What Israel has done was withdraw and then impose a siege while intensifying once again its settlements in and control over the West Bank, both of which violate international law.

The third myth surrounds the Oslo peace process. The traditional narrative, repeated here, is that “Israel has always labored for a peaceful relation with its Arab neighbors.” In reality, Israel violated every agreement with and about Palestinians, beginning with its pledge in the Camp David Accords to enable “full autonomy to the inhabitants” as soon as possible (as we know, instead of robust autonomy Palestinians received half a million settlers and lost control over the vast majority of their land). Israel’s record of abiding by the Oslo-era agreements is no better, and in fact doomed them from the start.
INTERACTIVE: Gaza Under Attack

The fourth myth surrounds Hamas. Voight claims that “the Palestinians elected Hamas, a terrorist organization, and they immediately began firing thousands of rockets into Israel.” Even the arch-conservative New York Post recognized that Hamas was elected not because of its terrorism but out of disgust with an utterly coopted, corrupt and brutal Palestinian Authority. More to Voight’s point, Hamas did not begin firing missiles into Israel until after it attempted to remove the newly elected leadership by force in a US and PA-supported coup. No significant rocket fire occurred until two years after Hamas was elected, during which time Israel continued its siege on Gaza and ever-tightening stranglehold on the West Bank.

Finally, Voight claims that his fellow actors “have forgotten how this war started”. But contrary to his assertion, as reported in great detail in the Israeli media, the Israeli government began a series of attacks on Hamas and other Palestinian activists, arresting, shooting and even killing many in response to its unity deal with the Palestinian Authority. This was the context for the kidnap and murder of three settler youth which was not a cause of but rather a link in a much larger chain of events that led to the present disaster.

Have Israel’s actions risen to the level of genocide, as the letter Mr Bardem and others signed alleges? Given the history of genocide against the Jews – the term was invented to describe the Holocaust – it is tragic that such a characterization can even be considered. But it must be faced, because Israel’s actions, which have long been characterized as “politicide” or “spaciocide” by Israeli and Palestinian scholars, as well as the political and public rhetoric against Palestinians, have become so intense that the genocide accusation can no longer be dismissed out of hand.

It is undeniable that Israelis have suffered in the latest Gaza war, but it’s equally certain that the suffering Israel has inflicted upon Palestinians is exponentially greater, and the responsibility for that suffering lies not just with Israel, but with the United States which has, in the words of Jon Stewart, acted as its “drug dealer” while pretending to be a caring friend. If Israel’s most vocal partisans like Jon Voight really care so much about Israel, they should take the time to understand this historical and political reality. Otherwise, their passion and concern for Israel will only lead it closer to the very reckoning they desperately hope it will avoid.

Gil Hochberg is a professor of Comparative Literature at UCLA. She is the author of "In Spite
of Partition: Jews, Arabs, and the Limits of Separatist Imagination" (Princeton University
Press, 2007) and is presently finishing a project studying the Visual Politics of the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict.
Mark LeVine is a professor of Middle Eastern History at University of California, Irvine, and
a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Lund University. His new book is One Land, Two States:
Israel and Palestine as Parallel States, co-edited with Ambassador Mathias Mossberg.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Zionist Congress 1923

September 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Shared from JTA-Jewish Telegraph Archive

Zionists Adopt Agency Proposal 164 to 87

August 17, 1923

Carlsbad (Aug. 17)

The protracted debate on the Jewish Agency question which has been the principal object of discussion since the first day of the Zionist Congress almost a fortnight ago, was settled in the early hours this morning, when the Assembly by a vote of 164 to 87 voted to approve the proposal to have the Zionist Organization draw in outside forces willing to help in the upbuilding of the Jewish Palestine.

As finally adopted the proposal provides that the representatives of the non-Zionist organizations shall be invited to form a council which with the Executive of the Zionist Organization shall form the Agency. The resolution provides also that within three years a World Congress of Jewry shall be convoked, the Agency serving until this gathering creates a permanent one.

Supporters of the proposal included the orthodox Mizrachi group, which had been among the leaders hitherto in the opposition to the Weizmann Administration and plan. Their action indicating a departure from their demand for an immediate Congress was a surprise to all. Those opposing the Agency on the final roll call were the labor groups consisting of 33 Zeire Zion (Young Zionists) delegates. 9 Poale Zion delegates and 9 Socialist Zeire Zion.

Of the Executive, Dr. Weizmann, Dr. Soloweitchik, Isaac Naiditch and Dr. Georg Halpern voted in favor. Opposing were Dr. Lichtheim and J. Sprinzak, a labor member of the Executive. Nahum Sokolow, M. Ussishkin and Dr. Arthur Ruppin were absent during the balloting. While this absence may have been entirely accidental and due to the hour (2 A.M.) the roll call took place, it is possible also, it is said, that they remained away in order not to commit themselves.

The question of the new Executive is the only matter that remains to be decided before the adjournment of the Congress. The question of the reelection of M. Ussishkin, at present in charge of the Zionist activities in Palestine, is one of the most bitterly fought in the election slate. Dr. Weizmann favors his elimination, Mr. Sokolow, on the other hand, demands the continuance of the present Executive without change.

Indications are that the plan first sponsored by Dr. Weizmann and Sokolow for a “homogeneous” executive will not be carried and that a “coalition” executive will be approved instead. Dr. Weizmann contends that the headquarters of the Executive must remain in London, but that the Palestine office must be increasingly strengthened. It is believed Dr. Weizmann favors for the Palestine branch Dr. Arthur Ruppin as colonization expert and Colonel Kisch, as political representative, with Mr. Ussishkin eliminated. For the London cabinet he is said to favor Dr. Georg Halpern as financial expert and Dr. Berthold Feiwel as organization chief.

While the Permanent Committee was busy drafting the final form of the compromise agency proposal and others busy slating the Executive. Thursday was given over to consideration of reports and adoption of concrete proposals.

The Land Commission, reporting through Dr. Schmarak recommended that £160,000 be appropriated for colonization work, £120,000 to be expended on actual colonization work and the balance used to create a reserve fund for the purchase of land, under the  Keren Hayesod’plan. A plan for the establishment of an industrial bank to provide credit for small industry and agriculture was adopted as also the proposal to extend credit to those engaging in handicraft.Dr. Rufeisen who reported on the credit scheme recommended that at least five per cent of the Palestine budget should be used for such credit facilities for mechanical laborers and that 20,000 pounds should be set aside for credits to suburban residents.

A proposal was carried for an “arbitration court” to be established jointly by the Zionist Organization, the Vaad Leumi and the labor organizations for the settlement of labor disputes and the elaboration of a minimum wage scale.

The report of the Immigration Committee evoked heated discussion, a portion of the Center and labor parties urging the continuance of the present policy of favoring the immigration of Chaluzim The Mizrachi who opposed preferences for chaluzim were voted down.

The Congress adopted a resolution providing for the creation of the office of a travelling inspector whose duty it will be to act as coordinate of immigration to Palestine.

Dr. Sapir on behalf of the Sanitation Commission urged that the Congress ratify the agreement of the American Zionist Organization, the Hadassah and the Joint Distribution Committee under which all three agree to contribute in virtually equal part to the continuance of the medical work in Palestine. The Commission also recommended that the Congress should voice its especial thanks to the Joint Distribution Committee and to Nathan Straus.

Recommendations for the improvement of the service connected with the quarantine activities in Palestine and also improved medical supervision over immigrants were adopted.

A cable from Henrietta Szold, read by Morris Rothenberg, announcing that Jewish physicians of the United States had agreed to give $10,000 for a Roentgen (X-Ray) institute in Jerusalem was received with cheers.

Burma Student Uprising

January 22, 2013 1 comment

Posted on January 22, 2013 by Akashma Online News

Source Burma VD Documentary

8.8.88 marked a moment of nationwide unity in the Burmese democracy movement. The demonstrations were held in a “spirit of unity, sacrifice and setting aside differences

Twenty-two years ago on 8 August, Burma’s army brutally massacred as many as 3,000 peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators marching against increasing poverty and oppression, and calling for an end to the military dictatorship. The serious human rights violations and economic mismanagement that led to the national uprising in 1988 have continued to worsen under the current regime.

Twenty-two years ago on 8 August, Burma’s army brutally massacred as many as 3,000 peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators marching against increasing poverty and oppression, and calling for an end to the military dictatorship. The serious human rights violations and economic mismanagement that led to the national uprising in 1988 have continued to worsen under the current regime.

“This is my country and this is the way it has been for more than 40 years.
I only remember a few weeks when things were any different.

In 1988 I was only a little boy. But that’s when every one in Burma was in the streets went out,  they were tired of Military rulers. they wanted a change. It was the students who led the demonstrations.
They become more and more outspoken and demanded that the generals give up power. We have even Aung San Suu Kyi when came back from Europe to lead up the people, but the generals wanted it differently.
At the end of the day, 3000 lay dead in the streets and it was all over. I feel as I wanted to fight for democracy ..but I think it better make a long plan We can not go out into the streets again.

Another student massacre still fresh in the minds of Rangoon Residents was like a spear punching their fears, On 7th July 1962, Burmese university students were massacred and Rangoon University Students’ Union building was dynamited down where students were still inside.

 General Ne Win notoriously justified his action by saying “Dar Dar Chin and Hlan Hlan Chin shin mae” which is laterally meaning aggressive challenging words in Burmese saying “I will fight Sword with Sword and Spear with Spear (to wipe out the opposition)” but in reality he killed un-armed non-violent students protesters with guns and dynamites. Burma Democratic Concern

The first uprising since the Military Junta took power in Burma was in 1988, the students took to the streets and 3000 of them were massacre and the soldiers killed them with their dreams and their hopes to ask for something different. The Military Junta killed the revolution’s seed.

“From the 8.8.88 uprising, we were able to bring down a 26 year old military dictatorship because we were united as a country. It was so pure, that spirit of unity. We were able to transcend our differences for our common unified vision of justice and democracy for all. My greatest wish is for us to retain that same spirit of unity that captured the nation’s imagination over twenty-two years ago, as that cohesiveness is our only chance for genuine national reconciliation and democracy in our country.” Burma Parnership

The fear was stronger than the dreams of liberty and with the students bodies, was buried the unborn revolution.

For years the secret service was every were, they had eyes in every corner, no cameras were allowed to film the misery that the people was living. Well so they thought, but an underground network of young reporters were risking their life and filming every aspect of the misery. They were filming every act of repression. The broken buildings of the society tired of living. For 19 years was silence, no dissent was heard off. But one day the spirit of the revolution, that seeds that was buried with the students in 1988 start its first sprouts aiming to the sun. And one day, the seed cracked open and the people felt the hope again. The hope to fight again for a dream stolen more than 60 years ago, and in 2007 the hope came dressed as a women his name is Aung San Suu Kyi  was daughter of Aung San, who founded the modern Burmese army and negotiated Burma’s independence from the British Empire in 1947; he was assassinated by his rivals in the same year. Aung San Suu Kyi was raised in England and came to her country to pick up the pieces scattered all along the delta river.

Aung San Suu Kyi was no new to the Military Junta, she was loved and cherished by the people, when in 1990 she run as an opponent of the Military Junta, almost the whole country vote for her and she was placed in house arrest. Her crime was been loved by the people. That could have been the only reason why she has not been disappeared. For years the Junta was hoping for the people to forget about her, but her memory is fresh in the heart of the people. They know Aung San Yi is their only hope.

Some students have asked me which politicians are standing behind me. They are apprehensive that such politicians might manipulate me and then take over the students. I am happy that the students have been so open and honest with me. Young people are frank and free from deviousness. I answered them truthfully. There are no politicians behind me. What I am trying to do is to help achieve the democratic system of government which the people want. For the achievement of this system, there are some veteran politicians who wish to help me in various ways. I have told such politicians that if their object is to obtain positions of political power for themselves, I would not support them in any way. Should these politicians try to obtain positions of political power I promise in front of this assembly of people that I myself will not hesitate to denounce them. Speech Given in 1988 by Aung San Suu Kyi

The network of young reporters from DVB (Democratic Voice of Burma), it is a network of dissidents in exile, with headquarters in Oslo, they smuggle the footage with trusted carriers, and using satellite when it is possible, this way they have been able to export the repression out of Burma for the world to see. They have one of the most risky jobs, not for money but for the dream of freedom, to see Burma free of the Military boot rule” Burma Journalist.

I sadly announce that the Burmese military junta has cut off the internet connection… I therefore will not be able to feed in pictures of the brutality by the Burmese military junta. I will try my best to feed in their demonic appetite of fear and paranoia by posting any pictures that I receive though other means (Journos!! please don’t ask me what other means would be). Please lobby the Chinese government or UN to get junta to switch on the Internet. Please! Sept 27, 2007 Burma Voice Democratic

Burma documentary assembled entirely with video clips recorded with hidden cameras.
The camcorders bring you the students uprising, their massacre. They bring you the fear in an oppressed and hungry population. They bring you the Monks uprising, their massacre. They bring you the people uprising, their massacre. And they bring you the lies and the repression of the Military Junta.

Thousands of Buddhist monks have been on the streets of the big cities of Burma (Myanmar) for the past few days, and the numbers are only growing. They are now calling explicitly for the overthrow of the military regime which has ruled the country for almost two decades, and they say they will not stop marching until the government is gone. Burma's democratic leader and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize Aung San Suu Kyi has been in prison or under house arrest for many years.

Thousands of Buddhist monks have been on the streets of the big cities of Burma (Myanmar) for the past few days, and the numbers are only growing. They are now calling explicitly for the overthrow of the military regime which has ruled the country for almost two decades, and they say they will not stop marching until the government is gone. Burma’s democratic leader and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize Aung San Suu Kyi has been in prison or under house arrest for many years.

20 years later another protest shocked the Nation, this time were not the students but the beloved Buddhist Monks of Burma that came to the streets with their bowls upside down refusing to receive alms from the Military Junta and their families. The scene took by surprise the Military Junta and gave hope to the people that came to the streets to add their protests in hope that the rude-less government will respect the Monks. The Monks protest  was allowed for several days, and even when the Monks marched to greet Aung San Yi the Military Junta removed the barricades leading to Aung San Yi home. This unexpected event gave strength to the people to dream for a change, but as 20 years before the protests were beat and killed. The Monks Monastery was raided twice and the 247 Monks were taken away and the bodies started to show up in the river. Once again the people’s hopes was killed and buried with the Monks.

Burmese monks have taken part in protests in the past, against British colonial rule and against a half-century of rule by military dictatorship. The most notable recent occasion was in 1990.

Their militant resistance to the British produced the most prominent political martyr of Burmese Buddhism, U Wisara, who died in prison in 1929 after a 166-day hunger strike.

The silence of the United Nations, EU, US and the elite keep a complete silence for more than 50 years.
The question is why?.
Now, US parade Aung San Suu Yi. Why?.
The world ignores the sacrifice of the Buddhist Monks. Now, is no different than 50 years ago. What’s had changed?. Why the Elite insists on dividing Burma in slices of religious blocks. They always had fought together as an oppressed nation, during the 1962, 1988, 2005, 2007 uprising was never a sectarian divide.
Ask yourself Burma, ask yourself peace activists, ask yourself political activist in Burma, in whose interest is served when the Media feeds a war between Muslims and Buddhists. Why Aung San Suu Yi sided with the dividers? These questions need to be ask before we make any judgements.
In 1988 Aung San Suu Yi asked for unity of the Nation against the Military Boot, because of her standing against the Junta she become an instant hero, remember her words:
“Reverend monks and people! This public rally is aimed at informing the whole world of the will of the people. Therefore at this mass rally the people should be disciplined and united to demonstrate the very fact that they are a people who can be disciplined and united. Our purpose is to show that the entire people entertain the keenest desire for a multi-party democratic system of government.”

The Children of the Revolution

January 21, 2013 Leave a comment

Children of the revolution

Fusako Shigenobu

Cinematic re-imaginings of 1968 have flooded our screens in recent years to mark the 40th anniversary of the global phenomenon of revolutionary action. Such films are often coloured in a dangerous hue of nostalgia or, even worse, attempt to market their subjects as seductive youths titillated by violence, cheapening the political vigour that drove them. Shane O’Sullivan’s documentary Children of the Revolution is certainly immersed in the same fascinations, yet comes from a different vantage point, offering a unique point of reference: the daughters of the revolution.

Generational conflicts are always complicated, and even when the times allowed it, certain memories can be very unpleasant, if not painful to revisit. Especially when you are confronted with a past little out of the ordinary.

As in the case of Bettina and May, whose life as girls was marked by the radical choices of their mothers, who, at some time in their lives, they decided to go underground.

Children of the Revolution looks at the immediate aftermath of 1968 in Germany and Japan, from where revolutionary politics burst globally in the 1970s to have a long-lasting impact on our contemporary age. O’Sullivan positions Germany and Japan alongside each other for their shared histories as aggressors in the Second World War, as broken nations in its aftermath and, most importantly for this documentary, as countries that experienced large-scale civil revolt in the 1960s and into the 1970s. Both the Baader-Meinhof Group and the Japanese Red Army, leading activist groups of their respective nations, came up against limitations while operating within their own national borders and broke through internationally, ending up in Palestine to join its liberation movement. Both activist organisations involved women as central leading figures, namely Ulrike Meinhof and Fusako Shigenobu, and O’Sullivan details their personal histories through interviews with their daughters, Bettina Röhl and May Shigenobu, who were born and raised amid the chaos.  Sep 06, 2011 Electric Sheep Magazine

It is in this intimate territory, but at the same time political, which pushes the powerful documentary by Shane O ‘Sullivan, “Children of the Revolution”, which tells, through the eyes of their daughters, the stories of two women who become figures center of the revolutionary movement in Germany and Japan in 1968, Ulrike Meinhof and Fusako Shigenobu.

Their stories are pretty much public, even if Europe is more familiar with the figure of Ulrike Meinhof than Fusako, but the private aspect of it which moves Shane to offers us new insights on the vicissitudes of a history destined to leave many questions open.

The film opens with the disturbing images of an attack plane and continues at a rate very close and decided to tell the events, with lots of interesting archival material, photographs and never before seen interviews with people around you.

One can not help but breathe violence. Nevertheless, the documentary manages to capture something different, more profound that goes beyond the story we all know. Shane enters the complex mother-daughter relationship, investigating their memories and their opinions about the choices of their mothers and of those who may be the limits of revolutionary action. What comes out is also the portrait absolutely unusual at the time, by reflecting, in a broader analysis, on how the media basically build a certain image of the story and its protagonists. “This is where you decide to start the story that makes the difference.” (May Shigenobu) Both Bettina and May did not follow in the footsteps of their mothers policies, but their opinions about it are very different. Bettina Meinhof and her twin sister Regina were little more than teenagers when their life changes completely after the choice of Ulrike, an established journalist and intellectual figure on the left, to devote himself to the cause of German revolutionary movement. By daughters of the middle class become daughters of the revolution and almost end up in Jordan to be trained as soldiers. May is already born as a daughter instead of revolution. His mother Fusako was part of the armed forces when the Japanese as’ the light in response to the report with a rebel Arabic. In the coming years would move from time to time, constantly changing identity for security reasons, but the relationship with his mother, though fleeting, still managed to stay strong and to create understanding and comprehension.

While Ulrike seems to have been less aware of what would be the consequences of his choices, to the point of being torn between her identity as a mother and that of revolutionary Fusako seems to have had a more consistent and conscious path, connecting the two women who were her mother, and the revolutionary.

In fact, the testimony of Bettina May and create a strong emotional contrast. Both know, however, that those years were complex, where the revolution was everywhere in the air and the actions of those who remained involved should be clear, sharp, impressive, because every age has its own means of communication and their voices to be heard. Filmed in Tokyo, Beirut and Germany, “Children of the Revolution” is the third documentary written and directed by Shane O’Sullivan, who agreed to answer some probing questions about his work.

Ulrike Meinhof

As to the idea of ​​working on a topic as complex as the revolutionary movement in Germany and Japan, where it started the idea? My research on these stories are started before 9/11. The anti-capitalist demonstrations in Seattle and Genoa drew the student revolutions of the ’60s and the spirit of that time. Then the attack of 9/11 made it all fall into the nightmare of terrorism and anti-globalization movement is eclipsed. When the war in Iraq reported on protests in the streets, the government ignored them and “Operation Free Iraq” began. So I became interested in the energy and idealism of ’68 and what ensued. In Germany and Japan, the movement had a more international footprint so as to bring their own representatives in the Middle East.

In the documentary you wanted to mainly occupy the two female protagonists of the movement. What made them so interesting to you?

I considered the strongest characters of the movement and, after reading childhood of their daughters, Bettina and May, I found a way to tell a great political event through an exclusive point of view. The mother-daughter relationship, which is the focus of the documentary, highlights not only the personal aspect of the story, but it also reveals other motivations of the two protagonists.

In the documentary, have always maintained a neutral position and distant but telling the story of two women from a very intimate point of view. Do you think this is an aspect of the story that was left out and instead is important in the analysis of events that happened?

I believe that, as often happens, it creates the myth around so controversial figures. These two women have been slandered and defamed, but there were very human and complex motivations behind their actions that have been taken in a political and cultural context very different from that of today. Aspects of the society of which we are now almost careless were instead a source of conflict at the time. I do not condone their actions but I try to understand them.

I think the strongest aspect of the film is the subjective point of view of Bettina May and in telling the story of their mothers. A unique point of view that comes from personal experience and extensive research and knowledge of the history and politics of the time.

Their personal stories help us to reflect in a more wide variety of political issues: the nature of protest and resistance and how to defy an unjust war, the company or an economic system. Relazionandoci to them and the mother-daughter relationship you can imagine, up to a certain point, as it may have been their lives.

The mother-daughter relationship of the two protagonists seems to have been very complex to analyze. Where have you found it harder?

The relationship between Fusako-May was easier to understand why, despite the ongoing events, May continued to maintain a relationship of love and support to his mother and his comrades of the movement. Ulrike between Bettina and the relationship was much more complex and psychologically unstable. The transformation of Ulrike, divided between the maternal feelings and ideals of the movement, has a great influence on children and the growth of Bettina, distorting the relationship between the two.

As they affect the differentiating cultural and Bettina May is the approach to the past of their mothers and the idea of ​​revolution in general?


I would say a lot of influence. May grew up in the Middle East where his mother was seen as a heroine. The environment in which she grew up shared the same ideals of his mother, and the revolution was seen as a just cause against imperialism, despite the West were seen as terrorists. In Germany, Bettina lived in a society much more bourgeois, capitalist, with a father in a suburb alienated in Hamburg, away from his mother and his revolutionary ideals. To date, the generation of ’68 found opposite judgments between right and left, and Ulrike is seen as an idealist or a terrorist psychopath.

The documentary explores parallel both the past and the present in a manner that causes it to reflect on those which can be broadly human errors. What is your opinion?

The issues behind the student movement of ’68 are still alive: the struggle for education within the reach of all, the protest against a corrupt economic system that threatens to implode Europe, trying to stop a war. The nature of the protests has been transformed: from hijackings and sieges embassies to the popular revolutions in the Middle East; operations of hacker Western societies and looting shops in the streets of London, as part of a youth discontented. But the question is always the same: what are legitimate means to fight social injustice?

In the 70s, the only way that the Japanese or the Palestinians had to attract the public was hijack a plane and then give a press conference to present their demands and be known as a movement. Now things have changed. We have more sophisticated tools to communicate, organize and mobilize the people that make the operation of control by the authorities, a job much more difficult. The movements of the “Arab Spring” pointing to a more effective way to be heard and demand changes. But how do we evolve into a movement that comes to have a permanent voice in the political system? The protests are much more powerful now, but we are still waiting for a new wave.

Karin Bauer author of “Everybody Talks About the Weather..We Don’t: The Writings of Ulrike Meinhof”

Germany: Release of ex-Red Army Faction terrorists sparks hysterical debate

January 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Source World Socialist Web Site

By Justus Leicht and Wolfgang Weber
8 March 2007

UPDATED By Marivel Guzman

How a legitimate student movement is forced to become violent

Follow the links provided in the article, watch the original version of the events of the student protest in 1968 recorded by journalist Ulrike Meinhof. Make your own opinion of what happened on Germany. What was before the “terrorist organization RAF”. How the government responded to the demands for dialogue?. The Film released in 2008 give us a light on the other side of the story. Every story has its victims and perpetrators, but specially every story has a precedent and has an end. But there is something that insist to be in every human story, it seems never to end,  injustice and inequality . Now it is you the readers who has to make your opinion. At the end it is what count.

Brigitte Mohnhaupt Paroled in GermanyThe state court in Stuttgart recently ruled that the former Red Army Faction (RAF) terrorist Brigitte Mohnhaupt should be released on probation in March, after serving 24 years in detention. Federal President Horst Köhler is also expected to announce his decision soon as to whether another former RAF terrorist, Christian Klar, will be pardoned. The only remaining RAF members still in prison are Eva Haule and Birgit Hogefeld, with Haule qualifying for parole in August.

A court paroled a one-time leader of Germany’s notorious Red Army Faction Monday after 24 years in prison, amid bitter memories of the left-wing terrorist group’s attacks on law enforcement and business leaders, which plunged the country into fear three decades ago.

Brigitte Mohnhaupt, 57, is to leave prison March 27, the first day she becomes eligible for release, the Stuttgart state court ruled.  Sketchy Thoughts. Mohnhaupt walked free from Aichach prison on March 25, 2007.

The impending release of these former terrorists has met with a vicious response from the German political establishment and media. The main question at issue has been whether their release should be made conditional on an expression of remorse. While conservative politicians, victims’ family members and representatives of the security services are demanding such a statement be made prior to release, some media outlets, and a handful of Green and Social Democratic Party (SPD) politicians, say the government should show its strength through clemency.

Burial of the RAFMembers Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe in a common grave at the Stuttgart Dornhaldestrasse cemetery., Masked at the grave; Motiv: 6 von 12; Foto: Abishag Tüllmann, Stuttgart, 27.10.1977; Publication must show the following: Picture Archive of Prussian Cultural Heritage - Abisag Tüllmann Archives

Burial of the RAFMembers Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe in a common grave at the Stuttgart Dornhaldestrasse cemetery., Masked at the grave; Motiv: 6 von 12; Foto: Abishag Tüllmann, Stuttgart, 27.10.1977; Publication must show the following: Picture Archive of Prussian Cultural Heritage – Abisag Tüllmann Archives

The head of the Christian Democratic (CDU) parliamentary faction Volker Kauder told the press, “There should be no mercy for those who mercilessly murdered wives’ husbands and children’s fathers with the aim of destroying our democracy.” The former head of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) Horst Herold was no less vehemently opposed to the early release of Mohnhaupt. Another former BKA chief, Hans Ludwig Zachert, also opposed a pardon and denounced Klar as a “mass murderer” and “ice block.” He was supported by former Stuttgart prosecutor general Klaus Pflieger, who co-authored the indictments against Klar and Mohnhaupt.

The Bavarian Prime Minister and chairman of the Christian Social Union (CSU), Edmund Stoiber, even demanded the prisoners expressly renounce violence and make a positive commitment to the state. He told the press a condition of their release should be an “open” expression of “genuine” regret. “It is not the state that should signal its reconciliation to the RAF terrorists, but the terrorists must first honestly express regret for all their crimes and profess their allegiance to the constitutional state.”

Such “confessions” are typical not for a democracy based on the rule of law, but for dictatorial and totalitarian regimes.

According to German law, a convict’s request for the suspension of the remainder of his or her sentence on probation, after the completion of a minimum term, must be approved by the courts. A condition for a positive decision is the prognosis that the person will not commit any more criminal offences. The law does not stipulate that a convict must first make an expression of remorse, much less issue a political statement supporting the state.

At present, those given life sentences must serve at least 15 years. On average, they are released after 17 to 19 years. In cases of “especially serious guilt,” as was found in the case of the RAF terrorists, the minimum sentence is extended. In these cases, the average detention amounts to 23 to 25 years.

In the cases of Mohnhaupt and Haule, it is not a matter of “clemency” or a “signal of reconciliation,” but the granting of legally enshrined rights, guaranteed through a 1977 judgement of the Federal Constitutional Court, and the principles of rule of law and human dignity, which are due to any offender who has served an appropriate sentence, even in cases of the most serious crimes.

The Badeer Meinhof Gang Trial

The Badeer Meinhof Gang Trial

One of the most repulsive examples of the hysteria with which politicians and the media have reacted to the impending release of the RAF terrorists was the Sunday television talk show hosted by Sabine Christiansen. Christiansen had invited three “victims of terrorism” onto her show: Michael Buback, the son of the German attorney general murdered by the RAF in 1977; Michael Esper, a victim of the Al Qaeda bombing of the synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia; and Bettina Röhl, the daughter of RAF founder Ulrike Meinhof. The highly emotional contributions of these individuals were then supported and deepened by the Brandenburg interior minister and retired lieutenant general, Jörg Schönbohm (CDU).

To refresh the memory to the German society The Badeer Meinhof Complex Documentary brings  the story of the main players of the student movement of 1970 in Germany .

 Nominated for the Golden Awards for the best foreign film, The Badeer Meinhof Complex 2008 German Film brings you the factors behind the upraising. The first part of the Film show us the injustice, the inequality of world wide political game of oppression, repression and silencing the dissenting voices of the youth. The common denominator for a revolution has always has been Injustice and inequality.

You can have all the sociologists of the world studying the patterns of revolutions and every time they will miss the point. Purposely they will miss the point. Usually studies of any subject are conducted by prestigious Universities. Universities “Paid” to “Find” something.
You can have hundreds terrorism strategist and spies agencies around the world trying to stop “Terrorism”, you can have hundreds Benjamin Netahagus’s books written giving lessons to how to combat terrorism. Every time the strategist will miss the point. There is no terrorism, it is a wake up call to show the governments that something it is wrong.  Something wrong that it is answered with State terrorism.

The Badeer Meinhof Complex Film give you the aspects of German’s wrongs of the 70’s. The US’s wrongs of Vietnam, The Israel’s wrongs of the Occupation of Palestine, the wrongs of injustice and inequality.

The Badeer Meinhof Complex Film was nominated for the best foreign language Film and it could have been very well  nominated  for the Best Documentary, doing it so would have given a truth to the German  student movement of the 70’s.
There is an immense archive of the Badeer-Meinhof gang that could had been used, but the producers of the film decided for a more socially accepted category of film. Not too Radical, not to political, not to human. The characters of the film are all real, the events are truth story, even the government response it is very real.  Akashma News
Intricately researched and impressively authentic slice of modern German History, with a terrific cast, assured direction, and a cracking script. Rotten Tomatoes

In this heated atmosphere, Christiansen carried out a viewers’ poll and announced at the end of the programme that 91 percent of those questioned had expressed opposition to the early release of Mohnhaupt and Klar. The daily Süddeutsche Zeitung called the programme “a declaration of journalistic bankruptcy,” and added, “If Christiansen had asked whether terrorists should face the death penalty, 91 percent would probably have supported this.”

Andrees Badeer left 05

Andrees Badeer left 05

Anyone who believes in a humane society can only welcome the initiative to release the last of the RAF prisoners. In 1992, one and a half decades ago, the RAF announced the end of its armed struggle. In 1998, nearly 10 years ago, the organisation dissolved itself, and most of its members were then released. Most had served their sentences; others were pardoned by the German president and released early. All four predecessors of the present federal President Horst Köhler have pardoned RAF members, none of whom has since returned to the armed struggle.

This March, Brigitte Mohnhaupt will have served the minimum sentence for her offences. The federal prosecutor’s office has supported her request that the balance of her sentence be suspended, and the state court in Stuttgart has sustained this view. Politicians and the media—some more reluctantly than others—have accepted that the letter of the law is being followed.

Unlike Mohnhaupt, Christian Klar received a minimum sentence of 26 years, which only expires in 2 years’ time. In 2003, in his application for a pardon, he expressed his regret for the consequences of his actions: “Naturally, I must recognise my guilt. I understand the feelings of the victims and regret the suffering of these people.”

In 2001, Klar had been interviewed on television by the now-deceased journalist Günter Gaus, who also advised Klar on his application for a pardon. According to Gaus’s daughter Bettina, the impression made by Klar—seriously scarred physically and psychologically by decades of imprisonment—left Gaus “deeply unsettled.” This assessment is shared by the author of these lines, who also witnessed the interview. The 54-year-old Klar, who had studied philosophy and history, although probably healthy in a purely medical sense, was absent, unsure of himself and evidently had trouble following the journalist’s questions and articulating his own thoughts.

Several RAF prisoners have spent many years of their detention in total isolation, and their prison conditions were consciously designed to destroy their personalities.

The political dead-end of individual terror

Meinhof

Meinhof

Marxists have always rejected and opposed the politics and methods of individual terrorism and the RAF. Revolutionary politics aims at the emancipation of broad layers of working people, seeking to raise their political consciousness and cultural level so that they might abolish capitalism and organize society on a humane and truly democratic basis. Socialist politics are therefore always linked to the struggle for democracy and humanity.

Terrorism, on the other hand, feeds on contempt for the general population, acts independently of it and, in the long run, always ends up seeking to influence one section or other of the ruling class through violent attacks and opportunist manoeuvres. At the same time, it provides the representatives of the state with a pretext to weaken fundamental democratic rights and makes the struggle for socialist politics more difficult. A glance at the history of the RAF makes this very clear.

Mohnhaupt and Klar are generally regarded as prominent leaders of the RAF “second generation.” The initial public appearance of the Red Army Faction “first generation,” around Ulrike Meinhof, Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ensslin, occurred in 1970. Its members came from the student protest movement that was directed against the colonial war of the US in Vietnam, and the preponderance of former Nazis in the post-war German Federal Republic (West Germany).

Human relations are political, because they show if the people are opressed or free, if they can act throughful or not, if they can act in any way or not. 1969 Ulrike Meinhof

Interview of Ulrike Meinhof considered by German Police one of the founder of the Red Army Faction, she was a journalist

In the period that shaped this generation and drove them to rebellion, the Nazi lawyer Hans Globke was chief of staff to Chancellor Konrad Adenauer; a Nazi naval judge, Hans Filbinger, who had condemned a sailor to death in March 1945 for desertion, was prime minister of the state of Baden-Württemberg; and many Nazi professors still delivered their lectures at the universities as if nothing had happened. Only a few of the judges who had served on the Nazis’ so-called “people’s courts”—which had imposed thousands of death sentences—faced trial after the war, and they were then acquitted.

The Social Democratic Party, which had long since abandoned a socialist perspective, still had significant support in the factories and trade unions. In East Germany, the Stalinist bureaucracy, along with its followers in the West, were also hostile to any revolutionary movement of the working class. At the same time, the student movement was strongly influenced by the anti-Marxist theories of the Frankfurt School, which wrote off the working class as a revolutionary factor, regarding it as a bourgeoisified mass “intoxicated by consumerism,” instead glorifying the guerrilla movements in the Third World and other petty bourgeois forces.

The RAF was from the outset marked by this contempt for the working class and broad sections of the population. In April 1968, Baader, Ensslin and others started fires at two Frankfurt department stores. In October of the same year, the trial of the arsonists ended with three-year sentences being handed out. Ensslin took sole responsibility for the arson, arguing she had done it out of “protest against the indifference with which people were watching the genocide in Vietnam.”

In 1972, 11 Israeli athletes attending the Olympic Games in Munich were kidnapped and subsequently killed by Palestinian terrorists. The RAF glorified this as an “anti-imperialist, internationalist and anti-fascist act.” The RAF attacked US army facilities in Germany without any regard for the lives of the young soldiers who often came from the most oppressed layers of the American working class.

For its part, the German state acted with extreme aggression not only against the RAF, but also against left-wingers and socialists. The media and politicians used the attacks to slander all critics of capitalism as terrorists.

In 1972, shortly after the beginning of the so-called “May offensive,” practically the entire “first generation” of the RAF was arrested. In the same year, the so-called “Anti-radical decrees” were introduced, which threatened to prohibit any member of a left-wing organization from working in the public service.

The politics of the RAF “second generation” consisted essentially of attempts to induce the state to release the RAF prisoners through a campaign of assassinations and hostage-takings. It was characterised by a mixture of violence and opportunism.

From the mid-1970s, the government under Social Democrat Helmut Schmidt launched a counter-offensive against the strike wave and student radicalisation that had persisted since 1968. It ruthlessly suppressed all attempts to free the RAF prisoners by means of hostage-taking. The rights of the prisoners, who were being kept in high-security facilities, were further limited, including imposing total isolation, which is a form of torture.

Original Film Presented by Journalist Ulrike Meinhof in 1967 to Parliamnet to explain her siding with the student protest

In the following video you see excerpts of Ulrike own accounts of the events of June 2, 1967

When she is asked why you side with the students? she honestly answered: “The right wing-press blame the student for the catastrophe of June 2th, 1967, The Springer Publishing uses its newspaper to demonize the critical voices of students as hooligans. “For these Juvenals is no longer enough to raise hell, they have to see blood” Meinhof continues; “The truth is that the protest of these students had exposed our state as a police state, Police and press terror reached a peak on the 2th of June in Berlin, and we know that freedom in this country means freedom for police brutality.Then she goes on to say that The Battle for Jerusalem is demagogy, and while the US discusses or, whether or not to use Nuclear weapons in Vietnam, Israel, with American support, initiates a war of aggression and shamelessly labels it a preventive war.”

The RAF leadership were surprised by this harsh response and the unwillingness of the state to compromise. During the occupation of the German embassy in Stockholm by RAF members in April 1975, for example, the government did not yield, even after the murder of two embassy workers, and instead ordered the storming of the embassy.

Two years later, as the RAF prisoners were conducting a hunger strike for improved prison conditions, the German attorney general and two colleagues were assassinated. Later, a rocket attack failed on the building of the federal prosecutor’s office. The banker Jürgen Ponto was killed in a botched kidnapping attempt. The seizure of a German civilian airliner by a Palestinian commando group associated with the RAF led to the pilot being murdered. Instead of the RAF prisoners being released as demanded, the German government again ordered the ending of the hostage crisis by force.

The most prominent episode of the RAF’s “1977 offensive” remains the abduction of Hanns-Martin Schleyer, the president of the employers’ federation. His three companions and his driver were shot during the kidnapping. As the RAF admitted later, its goal was to use “his connections and influence” for an exchange of prisoners. However, the SPD-led government was determined not to make any compromise and even to accept Schleyer’s death as a result. This view prevailed, even against the wishes of Schleyer’s family, who had already assembled the ransom being demanded.

The callousness and brutality with which the RAF acted made it easy for the ruling elite and the media to encourage a climate of hysteria and trample on democratic rights. It was not only political opponents who were destroyed psychologically, physically and morally, but also many completely innocent people were shot during house searches, traffic controls and such like—”in self-defence” or “by mistake.”

At the same time, the terrorist attacks served the ruling class as a pretext for new and ever harsher attacks on democratic rights.

Two years after the Anti-radical decrees were introduced, a law was passed in 1974 making possible the exclusion of lawyers during a criminal trial and precluding several defendants being represented by a single attorney. This was aimed at preventing a lawyer acting as a conduit for communication between the prisoners. The number of appointed defence counsels was limited to three.

The law also made it possible for a trial to take place in the absence of the accused if he or she was mounting any protest actions such as a hunger strike for improved prison conditions.

The monitoring of communications between attorneys and their clients was legalized. In 1976, wide-ranging expressions of political opinion were criminalized, such as the “anti-constitutional endorsement of violence” and “supporting” terrorist organizations. The prosecuting authorities were given the right to order detention on remand in cases involving state security, even when there was no suspicion that an accused might collude with others or seek to flee the trial.

In 1977, the so-called “law banning contact” followed, legalizing the total isolation of the RAF prisoners, a situation that had had already been practiced without any legal basis. One year later, further possibilities for excluding for attorneys and extending the authority of the police to conduct searches followed.

At the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, it became increasingly difficult to determine which actions were being carried out by the RAF and which could be attributed directly to the state. There are suspicions that the final attacks were not committed by the RAF and that the letters claiming responsibility on the part of the RAF only served to divert attention from the real culprits.

For example, at the time of his murder in 1989, the spokesman for the executive board of the Deutsche Bank, Alfred Herrhausen, was under sharp attack by other members of the bank and was due to be replaced on the day he died. After Herrhausen had argued in favour of debt cancellation for several Third World countries, which had accumulated massive debts mainly with American banks, he received death threats. He took the threats so seriously that he wore a bulletproof vest at international finance meetings. Whether the RAF was at all responsible for his murder remains disputed to this day.

The present campaign against the release of the former RAF members takes place at a time when democratic rights are once again being sharply attacked. In the name of the so-called “fight against terrorism,” the government is pressing to legalize the deployment of the army inside Germany, together with the use of confessions obtained under torture as well as preventative detention merely on the basis of suspicion.

The hysteria surrounding the issue of whether Mohnhaupt and Klar should be released sooner or later after serving a quarter-century in prison is in fact part of a campaign to create the climate for a massive increase in the powers of the state apparatus—a development that seriously threatens basic democratic rights and is directed against growing popular opposition.

This link provided take you to the Film German Version caption translated to Portuguese The Baader-Meinhof Complex

Red Army Faction: Baader-Meinhof Gang

Red Army Faction: the Second Generation

Verena Becker, the former German Red Army Faction (RAF) member arrested last week over her links to a spectacular political murder committed 32 years ago, worked for years as a secret service informant, it emerged yesterday.

Becker, 57, was paid to help capture leaders of the left-wing terrorist group, also known as the Baader-Meinhof gang, according to senior former intelligence figures who spoke in a television documentary screened in Germany yesterday. The revelations came after she was arrested at her home in Berlin last Saturday when police found new evidence implicating her in the killing of Siegfried Buback. September 04, 2009 NZ Herald News

The June 2nd Movement

Revolutionary Cells

Other Terrorists

Proto-Terrorists: Socialist Patients Collective

Proto-Terrorists: West Berlin Tupamaros

Read More…. on Japanese Red Army Student Struggles

The similar political positions of the “Terrorists” of the 70’s , the Vietnam War, Israel Occupation of Palestine, US imperialist goals and fascism they all play a role in the student uprising of the 70’s. The state of constant alert from part of the governments against the students, sent the movement to a higher grounds of protest.
Injustice and inequality are the two main forces that drove the students movement rise. The repressive tactics of the governments sent the movement from vocal to violent. The events caught on cameras, and the accounts from witness of those movement let us know that the students were forced to become violent to protect themselves, and to be heard by a dormant populace.

40 years later the governments of the world are in the same state of alert against a movements that started to grow. Injustice and inequality the two factors of the past still the same factors affecting the modern political movements.

All the material utilized in this article are taken from public sources for education purposes.

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