Koodankulam: Manmohan Singh’s Grand And Faulty Obsession

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has invited foreign money and entities, including the Koodankulam plant, into India like no other PM and most of it is hurting the interests of local communities, says Sandeep Pandey

India has done a commendable job by voting in favour of a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution censuring Sri Lanka [ Images ] for human rights violations of its Tamilian population. The Tamil Nadu government played an important role in convincing the reluctant Indian government to take a position on this issue. Although it opens the possibility of Sri Lanka raising the issue of human rights violations in Kashmir , etc, India should have and has taken an ethically correct position.

However, the state and the central governments do not seem to share the same concern for their own Tamil population protesting against a nuclear power plant being thrust upon them at Koodankulam, not far from Kanyakumari. People genuinely feel unsafe after the Fukushima accident about a year back and are concerned about their lives and livelihoods.

While the first phase of this plant with a capacity of 2000 MW, till date the largest nuclear power plant in India, was being set up locals were enthusiastic about it. They foresaw the possibility of employment generation and attendant benefits of industrial development. They never took Nagercoil based SP Udayakumar or any of the anti-nuclear activists coming from outside, who told them about the hazards of radioactivity, seriously.

In June 2011 the government decided to conduct a mock safety drill in the event of a possible accident. This drill rang the alarm bells. People saw the real possibility of an accident and overnight the public opinion turned against the nuclear power plant. Whereas in the earlier protests the activists could muster only hundreds of people, the first protest after the mock drill attracted close to 20,000 villagers. Udayakumar became a saviour for them.

Since then people have been waging a valiant battle against the State. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seems to have put his prestige once again at stake like he did for the Indo-US nuclear deal. He has gone all out in indulging in character assassination of the activists. One would have hoped that the governments would have learnt lessons from Singur and Nandigram incidents. But clearly, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and Manmohan Singh are getting desperate. One of them is accusing Udayakumar of working with American money and the other is accusing him of being a Naxal. These are now outdated tactics of suppressing the people’s voice.

A heavy contingent of police has been posted in the area to cordon off the protesting villagers from the outside world. The movement has so far remained totally peaceful even though a large numbers of people have been involved. In fact, the people deserve to be commended for this. Instead, the State is trying to provoke them. Once again this proves that people never indulge in violence. It is always the State which creates situation where violence erupts.

Manmohan Singh has invited foreign money and entities, including the Koodankulam plant, into this country like no other PM and most of it is hurting the interests of local communities. Hence, whether it is a question of inviting foreign money or using violence, it is quite clear that the government is the real culprit and it is also working against the interest of people of this country.

Thus, the government seems to be engaged in anti-national activities rather than the activists. The activists are protecting the people and empowering them to exercise their democratic rights. They are encouraging people to ask questions, a must for any functioning democracy. They should be credited for the deepening of democracy in this country.

In the West, people have often come out in large numbers on the streets to protest against nuclear activities. It is one of the important reasons why most developed countries are shedding their nuclear status. The disposal of radioactive waste is a serious problem to which the scientists haven’t found a safe solution. Japan and European Union are committed to developing a no nuclear and low carbon energy solution. The countries are evolving their positions from past learning.

However, the largest democracy in the world seems to have adopted high-handed ways of dealing with this question. The unelected PM of over 120 crore people takes a unilateral decision in this matter and uses subterfuge to thrust his decision upon the people. What he is doing is neither development nor a scientific-democratic way of doing things.

If fulfilling the energy needs is a priority then one doesn’t have to go anywhere else to look for alternative. The Koodankulam coastline is dotted with numerous windmills, including several of them inside the nuclear power plant. Incidentally, the new safety plans at Koodankulam intend to use backup power from wind energy in case of a Fukushima type accident. The electricity produced from wind energy in Tamil Nadu exceeds what the Koodankulam nuclear plant is likely to produce. Instead of pushing a controversial project, the decision-makers would do well to think of expanding the wind power base in this area.

However, if the Koodankulam nuclear power plant is part of the grand design of military-industrial complex, slated to enhance India’s status as a powerful nation, then we’re on a self-defeating path. No country which has focussed on enhancing its military power has remained peaceful and neither has it allowed others to live in peace. Manmohan Singh is seriously changing the role of the Indian nation from that of a harbinger of peace to that of an aggressive ally of the most notorious military power in the world.

India having become the largest importer of arms in the world and American and Israeli soldiers training Indian soldiers, doesn’t bode well for us.

By Sandeep Pandey

27 March 2012

@ Rediff.com

Magsaysay Award winner Sandeep Pandey is a social activist.

Giuliani openly promotes terrorism as a way to stop Iranian nuclear program

Rudolph “Rudy” Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City during the time surrounding the tragic events of September 11, 2001, is now coming out in support of terrorism.

As absurd as it sounds, it is unfortunately true. He has voiced support for the terrorist group known as Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), even going as far as to claim that supporting terrorism is the only thing that can stop the Iranian nuclear program.

Keep in mind; this is the same group which, according to anonymous U.S. officials, is working with the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad to carry out terrorist attacks and assassinations in Iran.

According to the International Business Times, Giuliani made these disturbing statements at a press conference earlier this week in Paris, France.

He spoke with former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, the former chief of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, and former Representative for Rhode Island Patrick Kennedy.

It is impossible to deny at this point that this terrorist group has some very powerful allies in Washington.

“I have a feeling that the only thing that will stop [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] and the only thing that will stop [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad is if they see strength, if they see power, if they see determination, if they see an America that is willing to support the people that want to overthrow the regime of Iran,” Giuliani said.

The MEK is still officially listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, which makes one wonder how anyone except these Washington players would be treated if they openly expressed support for an organization like al Qaeda, al Shabaab or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Something tells me that if you were not in such a position of power, you very well might be targeted as a supposed supporter of terrorism.

Seeing as providing “material support or resources” to any organization on the State Department’s list is actually a crime, one must wonder how these people supporting and promoting the MEK are not held accountable for their actions.

Indeed, three former senior U.S. officials are currently under investigation for accepting speaking fees from the MEK.

These individuals include Ed Rendell who is the former Governor of Pennsylvania, former mayor of Philadelphia, former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and former Chairman of the National Governors Association; former Director of the FBI Louis Freeh and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired General Hugh Shelton.

However, these are not the only political figures who have been paid to speak by the MEK. Indeed, others include former Vermont Governor and Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean, retired General Wesley Clark, Chief of Staff for the Bush White House Andy Card, former Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson and former Representative Lee Hamilton, who incidentally was the co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission.

How these individuals who claim to be opposed to terrorism and so often point to the tragic events of September 11, 2001 as justification for the erosion of our freedoms can turn around and openly support a designated terrorist organization is beyond comprehension.

Giuliani was invited to the conference in Paris by the French Committee for a Democratic Iran. It is unclear if he was paid and if so, how much he actually received, but Giuliani charges up to $100,000 for every speaking engagement so one must assume it didn’t come cheap.

The United States Treasury Department alleges that groups like the French Committee for a Democratic Iran actually act as a front, allowing for funds to be funneled to speakers by the MEK without having any direct ties.

“This is an utter lie and there is not even a scintilla of truth to it,” MEK spokesman Hossein Abedini said in a statement which was prepared to respond to the allegations.

“The MEK, as the legitimate opposition to the clerical regime, enjoys international recognition in Europe and the U.S. The objective of this failed propaganda is to weaken the widespread public support of the members of Congress, officials and scores of U.S. generals for … revoking of the illegitimate and unjust terror listing of the MEK,” he added.

The MEK has a long and ugly history of terrorist activities, although they claim to have stopped such actions.

However, the MEK is widely regarded as having assisted Saddam Hussein in crushing the uprisings in southern Iraq in 1991 and even participated in or helped with the massacre of Iraqi Kurds.

Suffice it to say, it is nothing short of disturbing to see anyone, especially these high-powered former officials, openly supporting terrorism and the murder of innocent people.

The fact that every single person involved with the MEK is not being investigated and arrested shows just how little our government actually cares about fighting terrorism. In reality, the “War on Terror” is just a flimsy pretext to engage in neo-colonialist adventurism abroad while robbing us blind and stripping us of our rights here at home.

 

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By Madison Ruppert

30 March 2012

@ Activist Post

Madison Ruppert is the Editor and Owner-Operator of the alternative news and analysis database End The Lie and has no affiliation with any NGO, political party, economic school, or other organization/cause. He is available for podcast and radio interviews. Madison also now has his own radio show on Orion Talk Radio from 8 pm — 10 pm Pacific, which you can find HERE.  If you have questions, comments, or corrections feel free to contact him at admin@EndtheLie.com

China’s Stability Gambit

BEIJING – The first principle that I learned when I started focusing on China in the late 1990’s is that nothing is more important to the Chinese than stability – whether economic, social, or political.

Given centuries of turmoil in China, today’s leaders will do everything in their power to preserve stability. Whenever I have doubts about a potential Chinese policy shift, I examine the options through the stability lens. It has worked like a charm.

Stability was on everyone’s mind at the annual China Development Forum (CDF) held March 17-20 in Beijing. Hosted by Premier Wen Jiabao, with many ministers of the State Council in attendance, the CDF is China’s most important international conference. Yet, literally two days before this year’s CDF began, the controversial Bo Xilai was removed as Party Secretary of Chongqing. As a strong candidate to join the Standing Committee of the Politburo, China’s inner circle of leadership, Bo’s sudden demise was stunning. There was a palpable buzz in the air as we convened in the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse.

The formal sessions played out predictably, placing great emphasis on the coming structural transformation of China’s growth model – a colossal shift from the all-powerful export- and investment-led growth of the past 32 years to a more consumer-led dynamic. There is now broad consensus among China’s senior leadership in favor of such a rebalancing. As one participant put it, “The debate has shifted from what to do to how and when to do it.”

Many of the other themes flowed from this general conclusion. A shift to services-led growth and an innovations-based development strategy were highlighted. At the same time, there was considerable concern about the recent resurgence of state-owned enterprises, which has tilted the distribution of national income from labor to capital – a major impediment to China’s pro-consumption rebalancing. The World Bank and the China Development Research Center (the CDF’s host) had just released a comprehensive report that addressed many aspects of this critical issue.

But the CDF’s formal proceedings never even hinted at the elephant in the chambers of Diaoyutai. There was no mention of Bo Xilai and what his dismissal meant for China’s domestic politics in this critical year of leadership transition. While it is easy to get caught up in the swirling tales of palace intrigue that have followed, I suspect that Bo’s removal holds a far deeper meaning.

Chinese officials faced the risk of a dangerous interplay of political and economic instability. Hit by a second external demand shock in three years – first, America’s subprime crisis, and now Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis – any outbreak of internal political instability would pose a far greater threat than might otherwise be the case.

Bo personified that risk. He embodied the so-called “Chongqing model” of state capitalism that has been ascendant in China in recent years – government-directed urbanization and economic development that concentrates power in the hands of regional leaders and state-owned enterprises.

I spent some time in Chongqing – a vast metropolitan area of more than 34 million people – last summer. I left astonished at the scope of the city’s plans. Orchestrated by Chongqing Mayor Huang Qifan, the principal architect of the spectacular Pudong development project in Shanghai, the goal is to transform the Liangjiang area of Chongqing into China’s first inland urban development zone. That would put Liangjiang on a par with coastal China’s two earlier showcase projects – Pudong and the Binhai area of Tianjin.

Yet this is the same state-dominated development model that came under heavy criticism at this year’s CDF – and that stands in sharp contrast to the more market-driven alternative that has gained broad consensus among senior Chinese leaders. In other words, Bo was perceived not only as a threat to political stability, but also as the leading representative of a model of economic instability. By dismissing Bo so abruptly, the central government has, in effect, underscored its unwavering commitment to stability.

This fits with yet another curious piece of the Chinese puzzle. Five years ago, Wen famously warned of a Chinese economy that was in danger of becoming “unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated, and unsustainable.” I have repeatedly stressed the critical role that Wen’s “Four Uns” have played in shaping the pro-consumption strategy of the “Next China.” Wen’s critique paved the way for China to face its rebalancing imperatives head on.

But, in their formal remarks to the CDF this year, China’s senior leadership – including Premier-designate Li Keqiang – dropped all explicit references to the risks of an “unstable” Chinese economy. In short, the Four Uns have now become three.

In China, such changes in language are no accident. The most likely interpretation is that those at the top no longer want to concede anything when it comes to stability. By addressing economic instability through pro-consumption rebalancing, and political instability by removing Bo, stability has gone from a risk factor to an ironclad commitment.

There can be no mistaking the Chinese leadership’s core message nowadays. They are the first to concede that their growth and development strategy is at a critical juncture. They worry that the “reforms and opening up” of Deng Xiaoping are in danger of losing momentum. By addressing the interplay between economic and political risks to stability, the government is clearing the way for the next phase of China’s extraordinary development. I would not advise betting against their commitment to achieving that goal.

By Stephen Roach

26 March 2012

@ Project Syndicate

How do honour killings differ from crimes of passion?

Her name was Melissa. She was 22. Her murderer’s name was Torbjörn, a Stockholmer with a criminal record and contacts in Hells Angels circles. He was 37, had been her “boyfriend” for two years and was sentenced to life. His friend, who may have participated in planning the murder, was sentenced to two years for desecrating a grave.

Two months later, Fadime was shot by her father, who was visiting her in Uppsala. The murder of Fadime, like that of Melissa became a long-running saga in the mass media; but the focus of articles and agitated emotions was dramatically different.

In the case of Melissa, the murder is treated as a piece of classical criminal journalism. Looking back, several of the articles read like titillating entertainment. Melissa’s beauty is stressed by illustrating the articles with photographs taken from her modelling portfolio. Several of the articles maintain that she used to wear black leather trousers and flirted with death-metal music and Satanism. The description of her stresses her sexuality, while her murderer is portrayed, of course, as an object of hatred – he weighs 140 kilos and has tattoos all over his body.

By contrast, the description of Fadime is severe, almost chaste. The murder is presented as an ideological or religious act, and does not follow the traditional pattern of crime journalism.

Nevertheless, there are obvious parallels. In both cases, a beautiful, outgoing young woman with a zest for life is dependent on an older man – Fadime on her father and Melissa on her boyfriend. Both cases involved older men with a need to control younger women who were in the process of breaking free. In both cases, the women had been subjected to increasing unease linked with death threats. In both cases, their rebellion was punished by death.

There are also differences between the cases. According to the mass media and concurring with the court judgment, the murder of Melissa was a cruel and premeditated killing linked with torture, but also an obviously “insane act” based on jealousy. The boyfriend simply could not tolerate Melissa going her own way and planning her own future outside his influence. But the murder of Fadime was a “culturally determined honour killing.” Her father simply could not tolerate Fadime going her own way.

“Melissa murders” are not unusual in Sweden. There are 15 to 20 every year in which the main circumstances are similar: threats, dependence, ill treatment and violence. Every year, Swedish women flee for their lives and seek protection wherever they can find it – in remote villages, with friends or in one of the refuges for women, of which there are more than 200.

Every year, Swedish society produces a new generation of threatened women who can testify to the lack of legal rights and the lukewarm interest shown by the police and other authorities.

Evidence of this lack of legal rights is interesting. In the debate about honour killings, it is claimed specifically that legislation in Muslim countries (as distinct from culturally advanced Sweden) favours and legitimizes violence on the part of men.

This systematic violence directed at women – for systematic violence is exactly what it is, and what it would be called if it affected to a similar extent trade unionists, or Jews, or the disabled – is never regarded as a “cultural problem” in Sweden. Indeed, one could ask if it is regarded as a problem at all, apart from in a strictly legal context.

But there is practically nothing available written by a Swedish social polemicist in which the writer tries to explain the murder of Melissa from a Swedish cultural-anthropological or broader cultural perspective. Such argumentation is reserved exclusively for “immigrants,” “Kurds” or “Muslims,” who can be studied in relation to Swedish culture.

It is, of course, impossible to compare the violent treatment of women and suggest that one murder is more cruel than another. In that respect, Fadime and Melissa were sisters.

An objection frequently made by supporters of a “cultural-anthropological” approach – and the argument is legitimate, to a certain extent – is that a fundamental difference between the murders of Melissa and Fadime is that few Swedish murders are encouraged by relations, close family and close friends. But this thesis is not completely true, either. Surprisingly often – as was the case with Melissa – violence is encouraged by individuals in the killer’s close circle of friends. It is difficult to find any other explanation for the willingness of friends of Swedish women-murderers to assist in tidying up the scene of the crime.

There are plenty of examples. A case that attracted a lot of attention a few years ago was the woman who committed suicide at the home of a notorious middle-aged swindler, known as the Count. When the girlfriend died on his sofa after repeated quarrels, the Count did not telephone the police, but contacted three male friends, who quickly appeared with hacksaws. Then, in accordance with good old Swedish traditions, the men drove around, dumping her remains bit by bit. This case has not been subjected to cultural-anthropological scrutiny, either.

By Stieg Larsson

30 March 2012

@ Globe and Mail

From The Expo Files: Articles By Crusading Journalist Stieg Larsson.© Reprinted with permission of Penguin Group (Canada).

The Original Sin

The Original Sin
By Uri Avnery

 

A friend of mine in Warsaw told me about a Polish journalist who visited Israel for the first time. On his return he reported with great excitement: “You know what I’ve discovered? In Israel, too, there are Jews!”

For this Pole, Jews are people who wear a long black kaftan and a big black hat. In almost every souvenir shop in Poland, little figures like this are exhibited along with other classics like the nobleman, the artisan and the peasant.

This distinction between Israelis and Jews would not have surprised any of us 50 years ago. Before the foundation of the State of Israel, none of us spoke about a “Jewish state”. In our demonstrations we chanted: “Free Immigration! Hebrew State!” In almost all media quotations from those days, there appear the two words “Hebrew state”, almost never “Jewish state”.

IN SCHOOL we acquired an ardent love for the country, the language and the Bible (which we considered the classic book of Hebrew literature.) We learned to regard with disdain – if not worse – Jewish life in the Diaspora. (All this, of course, before the Holocaust.) In 1933 I lived for half a year in Nahalal, the legendary communal village. Seeing it for the first time, I marveled at the communal hall building, the milk processing plant and the large agricultural school for girls (in which Moshe Dayan was the only male pupil). Out of curiosity I asked about the synagogue and was shown a ramshackle wooden hut. “That’s for the old ones,” one of the local boys told me pityingly. One cannot understand what happened since then without knowing that in those days almost everyone believed that the Jewish religion was about to disappear, together with the Yiddish-speaking old people who still stuck to it. Poor geezers. If somebody had predicted that the Jewish religion would dominate the future state, people would have laughed.

ZIONISM WAS, among other things, a rebellion against the Jewish religion. It was born in sin – the sin of secular nationalism, which had swept through Europe after the French revolution.

Zionism rebelled against the Halakha (religious law) which forbade Jews to “ascend” to the holy country en masse. According to the religious myth, God exiled the Jews from the country in retribution for their sins, and only God had the right to bring them back. Because of this, practically all the important rabbis – both the Hassidim and their opponents – cursed the founders of Zionism. (Needless to say, these curses – some of them very juicy ones – do not appear in Israeli schoolbooks.)

Before all the international inquiries preceding the establishment of the state, delegations of Orthodox Jews appeared in order to oppose the Zionist delegations.

 

But David Ben-Gurion, who refused to wear a kippah even at funerals (where most atheists do wear kippahs as a gesture towards the beliefs of others) thought that it was worthwhile to get the Orthodox to join his government coalition. Therefore he promised them to free a few hundred Yeshiva (religious seminary) students from military duty and to pay for their studies and upkeep, so that they would not be obliged to work for a living.

The consequences were unexpected. That little gesture has grown to monstrous proportions. Today one could man several army divisions with those shirkers from army duty. They now constitute 13% of the entire yearly crop of those liable to the draft. Moreover, 65% of all Orthodox male citizens do not work at all and live on the public purse.

The situation is absurd: the state is paying for the upkeep of a large and growing population of Torah-shielded parasites, who undermine the state. The state pays hundreds of thousands of young religious people in order to keep them from – God forbid – working. It pays them generous subsidies so they can produce more and more children (from 5 to 15 per family) most of whom will also neither work nor serve in the army. One can calculate exactly when the economy will collapse, together with the welfare-state and the “citizens’ army” based on conscription.

The whole phenomenon is an authentic Israeli invention. All over the world, Orthodox Jews do work like everyone else. During one of our visits to New York, we wanted to buy a camera. Rachel – who is a professional photographer – was told about the biggest photo shop in town. When we went there, we couldn’t believe our eyes: all the staff of the huge place were Orthodox Jews – all male, of course – clad in their traditional garb. That was the first time we had ever seen Orthodox men working.

This experience had an amusing side. We were both wearing an emblem with the flags of Israel and Palestine. When Rachel went to the cashier to pay, he looked sideways at Rachel’s pin, and without looking at her face asked: “What flag is that?”

“The flag of Israel,” Rachel responded.

“No, the other one!” the man insisted.

“The flag of Palestine’” she answered.

The man turned and spat on the floor, exclaiming loudly “Tfoo, tfoo! Tfoo!”

THE ORTHODOX camp in Israel is a hole which swallows anything that comes too near. For example: the Oriental Jews who came from Islamic countries. (They are frequently called “Sephardi” – “Spaniards” – though only a fraction of them are actually descended from the Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492.)

The Sephardi religious tradition has always been far more tolerant that the Ashkenazi one. It includes the teachings of geniuses like Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides), the personal physician of the great Saladin. Maimonides forbade religious students to make a living from their studies and ordered them to go out and work. The Sephardis have their own traditions, garments and symbols.

 

But lo and behold, upon coming to Israel, they subordinated themselves to the Ashkenazis and adopted their blind fanaticism, together with the kaftan and the hats that originated in cold Eastern Europe, where they were worn by the non-Jewish upper classes in bygone centuries. Their Sephardi party, Shas, is slavishly subservient to the Ashkenazi Orthodox. Their ”spiritual” leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, grovels before the East European anti-Hassidic Rabbis (called “Lithuanians”).

Last week, a miracle occurred. A Sephardic Rabbi, Haim Amsalem, rebelled against Rabbi Ovadia and his party, demanding a return to the Sephardic traditions of tolerance. He was promptly excommunicated.

IN THE early days of the state, the Orthodox Ashkenazis, though extreme in their religious beliefs, were moderate in national affairs. Not only did they not celebrate the Independence Day of the Zionist state or salute the flag of the Zionist heretics, but they also obstructed the nationalist adventures of David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Dayan and Shimon Peres. Later they opposed the annexation of the occupied territories – not because of any excessive love for peace or the Palestinians, but because of the Halakhic ruling that forbids the provocation of the Goyim, because it could cause harm to the Jews.

When the Orthodox set up settlements, they did not do so with any ideological fervor, but solely because of the need to find housing for their ever-growing numbers of offspring. The government gave them cheap land only beyond the Green Line. Nowadays, the largest settlements are Orthodox – Beitar Illit, Immanuel and Modi’in Illit – the last of which is located on land stolen from the Arab village of Bil’in.

WHEREAS THE large religious camp opposed the new Zionist movement, a religious splinter group supported it. In the religious camp they were a small minority. Between the two sides, ardent hatred was the rule.

Thanks to the massive support of the Zionist leadership, the “national-religious” camp grew in Israel at a dizzying pace. Ben Gurion set up a special branch of the educational system for them, which grew more extremist by the year, as did the national-religious youth movement, Bnei Akiva. Members of one generation of the national-religious community became the teachers of the next, which guaranteed an inbuilt process of radicalization. With the beginning of the occupation, they created Gush Emunim (“the Bloc of the Faithful’), the ideological core of the settlement movement. Nowadays this camp is directed by Rabbis whose teachings emit a strong odor of Fascism.

This would not be so terrible if the two opposing religious factions neutralized each other, as was indeed the case 50 years ago. But since then, the opposite has happened. The national-religious have become more and more extreme on the religious level, and the Orthodox more and more extreme on the nationalist level. The two factions are very close to each other today and together constitute an Orthodox-national-religious bloc.

 

The youngsters of the national-religious faction despise the lukewarm religiosity of their fathers and admire the robust religiosity of the Orthodox. The youngsters of the Orthodox faction are seduced by the nationalist melody, unlike their fathers, for whom Israel was just like any goyim-state to be milked.

The union of the two factions is based on the essence of the Jewish religion, as fostered in Israel. It does not resemble the Judaism which existed in the Diaspora – neither the Orthodox nor the Reform model. It must be said: the Jewish religion in Israel is a mutation of Judaism, a tribal, racist, extreme nationalist and anti-democratic creed.

There are now three religious educational systems – the national-religious, the “independent” one of the Orthodox, and “el-Hama’ayan (“to the source”) of Shas. All three are financed by the state at least 100%, if not much more. The differences between them are small, compared to their similarities. All teach their pupils the history of the Jewish people only (based, of course, on the religious myths), nothing about the history of the world, of other peoples, not to mention other religions. The Koran and the New Testament are the kernel of evil and not to be touched.

The typical alumni of these systems know that the Jews are the chosen (and vastly superior) people, that all Goyim are vicious anti-Semites, that God promised us this country and that no one else has a right to one square inch of its land. The natural conclusion is that the “foreigners” (meaning the Arabs, who have been living here for 13 centuries at least) must be expelled – unless this would endanger the Jews.

From this point of view, there is no longer any difference between the Orthodox and the national-religious, between Ashkenazim and Sephardim. Seeing the “youth of the hills”, who terrorize Arabs in the occupied territories, on screen, one cannot distinguish among them anymore – not by their dress, not by their body language, not by their slogans.

The source of all this evil is, of course, the original sin of the State of Israel: the non-separation between state and religion, based on the non-separation between nation and religion. Nothing but a complete separation between the two will save Israel from total domination by the religious mutation.

29 November, 2010
Gush Shalom

 

One Sided Deal

One Sided Deal

By Neve Gordon

 

Imagine a sheriff offering the head of a criminal gang the following deal: ‘If you agree to stop stealing from your neighbours for three months, I’ll give you cutting edge weaponry and block any efforts by other law enforcement authorities to restrain your criminal activities.’

 

Sounds absurd? Then how about this: in return for a three-month freeze of illegal construction in the occupied West Bank (but not in occupied East Jerusalem, where it may continue), Barack Obama has promised to deliver 20 F-35 fighter jets to Israel, a deal worth $3 billion. Moreover, his administration has vowed to curb action by the United Nations on the Goldstone Report, block anti-Israel UN resolutions concerning the Gaza flotilla raid, and defeat resolutions aimed at exposing Israel’s nuclear programme at the International Atomic Energy Agency.

 

In such situations it’s important to keep in mind that the sheriff (Obama) and not the gang leader (Netanyahu) is the major culprit.

Asian People’s Solidarity For Palestine Announces

Asian People’s Solidarity For Palestine Announces 
The Asia To Gaza Solidarity Caravan

05 October, 2010

 

500 civil resisters from 17 Asian countries will join the caravan from India and march through 18 Asian cities of Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey to break the siege of Gaza through the sea route in December 2010

The  Asia to Gaza Solidarity Caravan  is being organised by the  Asian People’s Solidarity for Palestine , an alliance of peoples’ organisations, social movements, trade unions, and civil society institutions of Asia. This struggle is broad-based, varied and multi-dimensional. It is humanitarian and for peace, freedom and  human dignity . It is against occupation, imperialism, apartheid, Zionism  and all forms of discrimination including religious discrimination .  Simultaneous press conferences are being held in 5 countries today – India, Turkey, Iran, Indonesia and Lebanon – to announce the launch of the Asia to Gaza Caravan.  Similar press conferences will be held next week in Syria, Palestine, Malysia, Nepal and Bangladesh.

 

The Asian People’s Solidarity for Palestine extends solidarity to the courageous people of Palestine in their struggle, resistance, and intifada against the Zionist Israeli occupation and affirms its commitment to Palestinian Self-Determination; Ending the Occupation; Equal Rights for All within historic Palestine; the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees; and the Establishment of a Sovereign, Independent and Democratic state of Palestine with Jerusalem as the capital.

 

The Asian People’s Solidarity for Palestine commits to build the solidarity of Asian people for the freedom of Palestine, provide materials, resources, and volunteers to support the struggle of the people of Palestine and oppose our own governments’ decisions and actions that give economic, financial, military and diplomatic support to Israel and allow it to behave with impunity.

 

India Lifeline to Gaza , which is a constituent of the Asian People’s Solidarity for Palestine will have a conference and a large flag off programme in New Delhi on 2nd December 2010. The Caravan will carry relief material for the people of Gaza. The Asia to Gaza Caravan will cross into Pakistan via the Wagah border where members of the Pakistan Solidarity for Gaza will join the Caravan onwards to Iran. In every country and city that the caravan travels through, public meetings will be organised as more activists and participants join the caravan.  We also support  the United Palestinian call of July 2005 for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) to compel Israel to comply with international law; the Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI); and all other initiatives to end the occupation of Palestine.

 

TENTATIVE CARAVAN SCHEDULE

01 Dec

Participants from East and South East Asia reach New Delhi, India

15-17 Dec

Tabriz , Iran to Eskandarun, Turkey

2-3 Dec

Flag off from New Delhi  
and travel to Wagah border, India-Pakistan Border

18-19 Dec

Eskandarun , Turkey to Damascus, Syria

04 Dec

Reach Lahore, Pakistan

20-21 Dec

Damascus , Syria to Amman Jordan

5-7 Dec

Lahore  to Karachi/Quetta, Pakistan

22-23 Dec

Amman , Jordan to Beirut Lebanon

08 Dec

Karachi/Quetta, Pakistan to Zahedan, Iran

24-26 Dec

Beirut  back to Turkey

9-14 Dec

Zahedan, Iran to Tabriz, Iran

26 Dec

We Sail for Gaza (Palestine)

 

Peaceful Resistance

The civil resisters have resolved to resist the Israeli sea siege in a peaceful manner and following the example of civil resisters such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela as well as the long tradition of peaceful resistance from all ethical and religious traditions. The civil resisters are willing to be convicted for their peaceful resistance.

 

India  Lifeline to Gaza

This process has been initiated by Indian people’s movements, social movements, trade unions, civil society organisations and multi-faith and ecumenical organisations. In the two months prior to departure of the Asia to Gaza caravan there will be multi-city programmes in solidarity of the people of Gaza and Palestine. Film festivals of Palestinian films and films of resistance, music concerts, photo exhibits, and theatre productions are being organised by the supporters of the people of Gaza and Palestine.

Palestinian Film Festival: Celebrating Cultures of Resistance

A week-long film festival screening Palestinian films and documentaries is being planned across several cities of India in the last week of October (tentatively 23-30 October). Several other initiatives such as solidarity concerts, theatrical performances, photo exhibits, panel discussions and seminars will also be planned in the days leading up to the flag-off of the Caravan.

 

End the Siege of Gaza • Freedom to Palestine • Boycott Israel

 

Endorsed by:

 

 

Organisations

All India Students Association

Aman Bharat

Asha Parivar

Awami Bharat

Ayodhya Ki Awaaz

Bahujan Sewak Sangh

Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha

Bharat Bachao Andolan

Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha

Campaign for Peace & Democracy (Manipur)

Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (Mazdoor Karyakarta Committee)

CPI(ML)

CPI-ML (New Democracy)

Forum against Oppression of Women

Free Gaza – India

Global Gandhi Forum

Hard News

Indian Isladhi Movement

India Palestine People’s Solidarity Forum

Indian Fed of Trade Unions

Insaaniyat

Intercultural Resources

Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Hind

Jamat-e-Islami-Hind

Le Monde Diplomatique

Loknaad

Mahatma Phule-Dr Ambedkar Vichar Manch

Mazdoor Ekta Manch

Muslim Intellectual Forum

Muslim Political Council of India

National Association of Peoples Movements

National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers

New Socialist Initiative

New Trade Union Initiative

Palestine  Solidarity Movement

People’s Union for Civil Liberties

Phule-Ambedkar Vichar Manch

Programme against Custodial Torture and Impunity

Progressive Students Union

Republican Panther

Saheli Women’s Resource Centre

Sarva Seva Sangh

Solidarity Youth Movement

South Asia Peace Alliance

South Asian Network of Gender Activists and Trainers

Students Islamic Organisation of India

Trade Union Centre of India

Teesra Swadheenta Andolan

Vidyarthi Bharti

Yuva Koshish

All India Majlis-i-Mushawarrat

Individuals:

Achin Vanaik

Agdish Nagarkar

Ambarish Rai

Amol Madame

Amit Sengupta

Anand Grover

Anand Patwardhan

Anand Swaroop Verma

Anil Chaudhary

Arif Kapadia

Ashish Kothari

Asif Khan

Aslam Ghazi

Bajrang Sonawane

Brig. Sudhir Sawant

Chetna Birje

Dr Sunilam

Ghazala Azad

Gopal Rai

Ihtishaam Ansari

Jai Sen

Javed Naqvi

Kabir Arora

Kalyani Menon-Sen, New Delhi

Khalid Riaz

Medha Patkar

Mehmood Madni

Mukta Srivastava

Mukul Sinha

Mulniwasi Mala

Munawwar Azad

Munawwar Khan

Pandit Jugal Kishore Shastri

Qurratulain Sundus

Reshma  Jagtap

Ritu Menon

Rohini Hensman

Salman Usmani

Sandeep Pandey

Sanjay ShindeSavyasaachi

Sayeed Khan

Sayeeda Hameed

Shabnam Hashmi

Shahid Siddiqui

Sheikh Muhammad Hussain

Shyam Sonar

Sudhir Dhawale

Sumi Saikia

Syed Iftikhar Ahed

Thomas Matthew

Tusha Mittal

Varsha V V

Vasanthi Raman

Vilas Gaikwad

Winnie Thomas

Yawar Ali Qazi

—  
India Lifeline to Gaza c/o ICR 33-D, 3rd Floor Vijay Mandal Enclave 
DDA SFS FLATS 
New Delhi, 110016 Email:  asiatogaza.india@gmail.com We b site: http://www.asiatogaza.net/ Phone: 09711178868; 09911599955; 09820897517

 

 

What If The Oil Spill Just Can’t Be Fixed? By David Roberts

What If The Oil Spill Just Can’t Be Fixed?

By David Roberts

 

The BP Gulf oil disaster is reaching an interesting phase. People’s gut instinct, their first reaction, is to find someone to blame. They blame BP for negligence; the Obama administration for its tepid response; the Bush administration for lax regulatory enforcement. People have been casting about for some way to compartmentalize this thing, some way to cast it as an anomaly, an “accident,” the kind of screw-up that can be meliorated or avoided in the future.

We are, however, drifting toward a whole different kind of place. Today BP is attempting the “top kill” maneuver — pumping mud into the well. If it doesn’t work, well … then what? Junk shot? Top hat? Loony stuff like nukes? Relief wells will take months to drill and no one’s sure if they’ll work to relieve pressure. It’s entirely possible, even likely, that we’re going to be stuck helplessly watching as this well spews oil into the Gulf for years. Even if the flow were stopped tomorrow, the damage to marshes, coral, and marine life is done. The Gulf of Mexico will become an ecological and economic dead zone. There’s no real way to undo it, no matter who’s in charge.

I’m curious to see how the public’s mood shifts once it becomes clear that we are powerless in the face of this thing. What if there’s just nothing we can do? That’s not a feeling to which Americans are accustomed.

Once we know that accidents can be catastrophic and irreversible, it becomes clear that there is no margin of error. We’re operating a brittle system, unable to contain failure and unable to recover from it. Consider how deepwater drilling will look in that new light.

The thing is, we’re already operating in those circumstances in a thousand different ways — it’s just that the risks and the damages tend to be distributed and obscured from view. They’re not thrust in our face like they are in the Gulf. We don’t get back the land we destroy by mining. We don’t get back the species lost from deforestation and development. We don’t get back islands lost to rising seas. We don’t get back the coral lost to bleaching or the marine food chains lost to nitrogen runoff. Once we lose the climatic conditions in which our species evolved, we won’t get them back either.

We’re doing damage as big as the Gulf oil spill every day, and there’s no fixing it. Humanity has grown in power, wealth, and appetite to the point that there is no more margin of error anywhere. We’re on a knife’s edge, facing the very real possibility that for our children, all the world may be one big Gulf of Mexico, inexorably and irreversibly deteriorating.

Perhaps if the public gets a clear taste of this, they’ll step back and contemplate whether the kind of energy we use is really as “cheap” as it looks. Maybe they’ll stop thinking about how to drill better and start thinking about how to avoid drilling altogether. Because some mistakes just can’t be undone

26 May, 2010
Grist.org

 

The Future of Palestine: Righteous Jews vs. the New Afrikaners

 

“The Future of Palestine:

Righteous Jews vs. the New Afrikaners”

By Professor John J. Mearsheimer

Talk presented on 29 April 2010 – The Palestine Center – Washington, DC

Posted May 02, 2010 –  Transcript Below

 

It is a great honor to be here at the Palestine Center to give the Sharabi Memorial Lecture.  I would like to thank Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the Jerusalem Fund, for inviting me, and all of you for coming out to hear me speak this afternoon.

My topic is the future of Palestine, and by that I mean the future of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, or what was long ago called Mandatory Palestine.  As you all know, that land is now broken into two parts: Israel proper or what is sometime called “Green Line” Israel and the Occupied Territories, which include the West Bank and Gaza.  In essence, my talk is about the future relationship between Israel and the Occupied Territories.

Of course, I am not just talking about the fate of those lands; I am also talking about the future of the people who live there.  I am talking about the future of the Jews and the Palestinians who are Israeli citizens, as well as the Palestinians who live in the Occupied Territories.

The story I will tell is straightforward.  Contrary to the wishes of the Obama administration and most Americans – to include many American Jews – Israel is not going to allow the Palestinians to have a viable state of their own in Gaza and the West Bank.  Regrettably, the two-state solution is now a fantasy.  Instead, those territories will be incorporated into a “Greater Israel,” which will be an apartheid state bearing a marked resemblance to white-ruled South Africa.  Nevertheless, a Jewish apartheid state is not politically viable over the long term.  In the end, it will become a democratic bi-national state, whose politics will be dominated by its Palestinian citizens.  In other words, it will cease being a Jewish state, which will mean the end of the Zionist dream.

Let me explain how I reached these conclusions.

Given present circumstances there are four possible futures for Palestine.

The outcome that gets the most attention these days is the two-state solution, which was described in broad outline by President Clinton in late December 2000.  It would obviously involve creating a Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel.  To be viable, that Palestine state would have to control 95 percent or more of the West Bank and all of Gaza.  There would also have to be territorial swaps to compensate the Palestinians for those small pieces of West Bank territory that Israel got to keep in the final agreement.  East Jerusalem would be the capital of the new Palestinian state.  The Clinton Parameters envisioned certain restrictions on the new state’s military capabilities, but it would control the water beneath it, the air space above it, and its own borders – to include the Jordan River Valley.

There are three possible alternatives to a two-state solution, all of which involve creating a Greater Israel – an Israel that effectively controls the West Bank and Gaza.

In the first scenario, Greater Israel would become a democratic bi-national state in which Palestinians and Jews enjoy equal political rights.  This solution has been suggested by a handful of Jews and a growing number of Palestinians.  However, it would mean abandoning the original Zionist vision of a Jewish state, since the Palestinians would eventually outnumber the Jews in Greater Israel.

Second, Israel could expel most of the Palestinians from Greater Israel, thereby preserving its Jewish character through an overt act of ethnic cleansing.  This is what happened in 1948 when the Zionists drove roughly 700,000 Palestinians out of the territory that became the new state of Israel, and then prevented them from returning to their homes.  Following the Six Day War in 1967, Israel expelled between 100,000 and 260,000 Palestinians from the newly conquered West Bank and drove 80,000 Syrians from the Golan Heights.  The scale of the expulsion, however, would have to be even greater this time, because there are about 5.5 million Palestinians living between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.

The final alternative to a two-state solution is some form of apartheid, whereby Israel increases its control over the Occupied Territories, but allows the Palestinians to exercise limited autonomy in a set of disconnected and economically crippled enclaves.

It seems clear to me that the two-state solution is the best of these alternative futures.  This is not to say that it is an ideal solution, because it is not; but it is by far the best outcome for both the Israelis and the Palestinians, as well as the United States.  That is why the Obama administration is intensely committed to pushing it.

Nevertheless, the Palestinians are not going to get their own state anytime soon.  They are instead going to end up living in an apartheid state dominated by Israeli Jews.

The main reason that a two-state solution is no longer a serious option is that most Israelis are opposed to making the sacrifices that would be necessary to create a viable Palestinian state, and there is little reason to expect them to have an epiphany on this issue.  For starters, there are now about 480,000 settlers in the Occupied Territories and a huge infrastructure of connector and bypass roads, not to mention settlements.  Much of that infrastructure and large numbers of those settlers would have to be removed to create a Palestinian state.  Many of those settlers however, would fiercely resist any attempt to rollback the settlement enterprise.  Earlier this month, Ha’aretz reported that a Hebrew University poll found that 21 percent of the settlers believe that “all means must be employed to resist the evacuation of most West Bank settlements, including the use of arms.”  In addition, the study found that 54 percent of those 480,000 settlers “do not recognize the government’s authority to evacuate settlements”; and even if there was a referendum sanctioning a withdrawal, 36 percent of the settlers said they would not accept it.

Those settlers, however, do not have to worry about the present government trying to remove them.  Prime Minister Netanyahu is committed to expanding the settlements in East Jerusalem and indeed throughout the West Bank.  Of course, he and virtually everyone in his cabinet are opposed to giving the Palestinians a viable state of their own.  Larry Derfner, a columnist for the Jerusalem Post, succinctly summed up Netanyahu’s thinking about these matters in a recent column: “For him to divide the land, to divide Jerusalem, to give up Hebron, to send 100,000 settlers packing – that would be treason in his eyes.  That would be moral suicide.  His heart isn’t in it; everything in him rebels at the idea.  Our prime minister is constitutionally incapable of leading the nation out of the Palestinians’ midst, of fighting the settlers and the Right in a virtual or literal civil war, of persuading Israelis to admit that on the crucial endeavor of their national life for the past 43 years, they were wrong and the world was right.”

One might argue that there are prominent Israelis like former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who openly disagree with Netanyahu and advocate a two-state solution.  While this is true, it is by no means clear that either of them would be willing or able to make the concessions that would be necessary to create a legitimate Palestinian state.  Certainly Olmert did not do so when he was prime minister.

But even if they were, it is unlikely that either of those leaders, or anyone else for that matter, could get enough of their fellow citizens to back an effective two-state solution.  The political center of gravity in Israel has shifted sharply to the right over the past decade and there is no sizable pro-peace political party or movement that they could turn to for help.  Probably the best single indicator of how far to the right Israel has moved in recent years is the shocking fact that Avigdor Lieberman is employed as its foreign minister.  Even Martin Peretz of the New Republic, who is well known for his unyielding support for Israel, describes Lieberman as “a neo-fascist,” and equates him with the late Austrian fascist Jorg Haider.  And there are other individuals in Netanyahu’s cabinet who share many of Lieberman’s views about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; they just happen to be less outspoken than the foreign minister.

But even if someone like Livni or Olmert was able to cobble together a coalition of interest groups and political parties that favored giving the Palestinians a real state of their own, they would still face fierce resistance from the sizeable forces that stand behind Netanyahu today.  It is even possible, which is not to say likely, that Israel would be engulfed by civil war if some future leader made a serious attempt to implement a two-state solution.  An individual with the stature of David Ben-Gurion or Ariel Sharon – or even Yitzhak Rabin – might be able to stand up to those naysayers and push forward a two-state solution, but there is nobody with that kind of standing in Israeli politics today.

In addition to these practical political obstacles to creating a Palestinian state, there is an important ideological barrier.  From the start, Zionism envisioned an Israeli state that controlled all of Mandatory Palestine.  There was no place for a Palestinian state in the original Zionist vision of Israel.  Even Yitzhak Rabin, who was determined to make the Oslo peace process work, never spoke about creating a Palestinian state.  He was merely interested in granting the Palestinians some form of limited autonomy, what he called “an entity which is less than a state.”  Plus, he insisted that Israel should maintain control over the Jordan River Valley and that a united Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel.  Also remember that in the spring of 1998 when Hillary Clinton was First Lady, she was sharply criticized for saying that “it would be in the long-term interests of peace in the Middle East for there to be a state of Palestine, a functioning modern state on the same footing as other states.”

It was not until after Ehud Barak became prime minister in 1999 that Israeli leaders began to speak openly about the possibility of a Palestinian state.  But even then, not all of them thought it was a good idea and hardly any of them were enthusiastic about it.  Even Barak, who seriously flirted with the idea of creating a Palestinian state at Camp David in July 2000, initially opposed the Oslo Accords.  Furthermore, he has been willing to serve as Netanyahu’s defense minister, knowing full well that the prime minister and his allies are opposed to creating an independent Palestine.  All of this is to say that Zionism’s core beliefs are deeply hostile to the very notion of a Palestinian state, and this makes it difficult for many Israelis to embrace the two-state solution.

In short, it is difficult to imagine any Israeli government having the political will, much less the ability, to dismantle a substantial portion of its vast settlement enterprise and create a Palestinian state in virtually all of the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem.

Many advocates of a two-state solution recognize this problem, but think that there is a way to solve it: the Obama administration can put significant pressure on Israel to allow the Palestinians to have their own state.  The United States, after all, is the most powerful country in the world and it should have great leverage over Israel because it gives the Jewish state so much diplomatic and material support.  Furthermore, President Obama and all of his principal foreign policy advisors are dedicated to establishing a viable Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel.

But this is not going to happen, because no American president can put meaningful pressure on Israel to force it to change its policies toward the Palestinians.  The main reason is the Israel lobby, a remarkably powerful interest group that has a profound influence on U.S. Middle East policy.  Alan Dershowitz was spot on when he said, “My generation of Jews … became part of what is perhaps the most effective lobbying and fund-raising effort in the history of democracy.”  That lobby, of course, makes it impossible for any president to play hardball with Israel, especially on the issue of settlements.

Let’s look at the historical record.  Every American president since 1967 has opposed settlement building in the Occupied Territories.  Yet no president has been able to put serious pressure on Israel to stop building settlements, much less dismantle them.  Perhaps the best evidence of America’s impotence is what happened in the 1990s during the Oslo peace process.  Between 1993 and 2000, Israel confiscated 40,000 acres of Palestinian land, constructed 250 miles of connector and bypass roads, doubled the number of settlers, and built 30 new settlements. President Clinton did hardly anything to halt this expansion.  Indeed, the United States continued to give Israel billions of dollars in foreign aid each year and to protect it at every turn on the diplomatic front.

One might think that Obama is different from his predecessors, but there is little evidence to support that belief.  Consider that during the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama responded to charges that he was “soft” on Israel by pandering to the lobby and repeatedly praising the special relationship.  In the month before he took office, he was silent during the Gaza massacre – when Israel was being criticized around the world for its brutal assault on that densely populated enclave.

After taking office in January 2009, President Obama and his principal foreign policy advisors began demanding that Israel stop all settlement building in the Occupied Territories, to include East Jerusalem, so that serious peace negotiations with the Palestinians could begin.  After calling for “two states for two peoples” in his Cairo speech in June 2009, President Obama declared, “it is time for these settlements to stop.”  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had made the same point one month earlier when she said, “We want to see a stop to settlement construction, additions, natural growth – any kind of settlement activity. That is what the President has called for.”  George Mitchell, the president’s special envoy for the Middle East, conveyed this straightforward message to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his lieutenants on numerous occasions.

In response, Netanyahu made it equally clear that Israel intended to continue building settlements and that he and almost everyone in his ruling coalition opposed a two-state solution.  He made but a single reference to “two states” in his own speech at Bar Ilan University in June 2009, and the conditions he attached to it made it clear that he was talking about giving the Palestinians a handful of disconnected, apartheid-style Bantustans, not a fully sovereign state.

Netanyahu, of course, won this fight. The Israeli prime minister not only refused to stop building the 2500 housing units that were under construction in the West Bank, but just to make it clear to Obama who was boss, in late June 2009, he authorized the building of 300 new homes in the West Bank.  Netanyahu refused to even countenance any limits on settlement building in East Jerusalem, which is supposed to be the capital of a Palestinian state.  By the end of September 2009, Obama publicly conceded that Netanyahu had beaten him in their fight over the settlements.  The president falsely denied that freezing settlement construction had ever been a precondition for resuming the peace process, and instead he meekly asked Israel to please exercise restraint while it continued colonizing the West Bank.  Fully aware of his triumph, Netanyahu said on September 23, “I am pleased that President Obama has accepted my approach that there should be no preconditions.”

Indeed, his victory was so complete that the Israeli media was full of stories describing how their prime minister had bested Obama and greatly improved his shaky political position at home.  For example, Gideon Samet wrote in Ma’ariv: “In the past weeks, it has become clear with what ease an Israeli prime minister can succeed in thwarting an American initiative.”

Perhaps the best American response to Netanyahu’s victory came from the widely read author and blogger, Andrew Sullivan, who wrote that this sad episode should “remind Obama of a cardinal rule of American politics: no pressure on Israel ever.  Just keep giving them money and they will give the US the finger in return. The only permitted position is to say you oppose settlements in the West Bank, while doing everything you can to keep them growing and advancing.”

The Obama administration was engaged in a second round of fighting over settlements last month, when the Netanyahu government embarrassed Vice President Biden during his visit to Israel by announcing plans to build 1600 new housing units in East Jerusalem.  While that crisis was important because it clearly revealed that Israel’s brutal policies toward the Palestinians are seriously damaging American interests in the Middle East, Netanyahu rejected President Obama’s request to stop building settlements in East Jerusalem.  “As far as we are concerned,” he said on March 21, “building in Jerusalem is like building in Tel Aviv. Our policy on Jerusalem is like the policy in the past 42 years.”  One day later at the annual AIPAC Conference he said: “The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago, and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement; it’s our capital.”  And just last week, he said “there will be no freeze in Jerusalem,” although it does appear that Israel is not building in East Jerusalem for the moment.  Meanwhile, back in the United States, AIPAC got 333 congressmen and 76 senators to sign letters to Secretary of State Clinton reaffirming their unyielding support for Israel and urging the administration to keep future disagreements behind closed doors.

In short President Obama is no match for the lobby.  The best he can hope for is to re-start the so-called peace process, but most people understand that these negotiations are a charade.  The two sides engage in endless talks while Israel continues to colonize Palestinian lands.  Henry Siegman got it right when he called these fruitless talks “The Greater Middle East Peace Process Scam.”

There are two other reasons why there is not going to be a two-state solution.  The Palestinians are badly divided among themselves and not in a good position to make a deal with Israel and then stick to it.  That problem is fixable with time and help from Israel and the United States.  But time has run out and neither Jerusalem nor Washington is likely to provide a helping hand.  Then there are the Christian Zionists, who are a powerful political force in the United States, especially on Capitol Hill.  They are adamantly opposed to a two-state solution because they want Israel to control every square millimeter of Palestine, a situation they believe heralds the “Second Coming” of Christ.

What this all means is that there is going to be a Greater Israel between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.  In fact, I would argue that it already exists.  But who will live there and what kind of political system will it have?

It is not going to be a democratic bi-national state, at least in the near future. An overwhelming majority of Israel’s Jews have no interest in living in a state that would be dominated by the Palestinians.  And that includes young Israeli Jews, many of whom hold clearly racist views toward the Palestinians in their midst.  Furthermore, few of Israel’s supporters in the United States are interested in this outcome, at least at this point in time.  Most Palestinians, of course, would accept a democratic bi-national state without hesitation if it could be achieved quickly.  But that is not going to happen, although as I will argue shortly, it is likely to come to pass down the road.

Then there is ethnic cleansing, which would certainly mean that Greater Israel would have a Jewish majority.  But that murderous strategy seems unlikely, because it would do enormous damage to Israel’s moral fabric, its relationship with Jews in the Diaspora, and to its international standing.  Israel and its supporters would be treated harshly by history, and it would poison relations with Israel’s neighbors for years to come.  No genuine friend of Israel could support this policy, which would clearly be a crime against humanity.  It also seems unlikely, because most of the 5.5 million Palestinians living between the Jordan and the Mediterranean would put up fierce resistance if Israel tried to expel them from their homes.

Nevertheless, there is reason to worry that Israelis might adopt this solution as the demographic balance shifts against them and they fear for the survival of the Jewish state.  Given the right circumstances – say a war involving Israel that is accompanied by serious Palestinian unrest – Israeli leaders might conclude that they can expel massive numbers of Palestinians from Greater Israel and depend on the lobby to protect them from international criticism and especially from sanctions.

We should not underestimate Israel’s willingness to employ such a horrific strategy if the opportunity presents itself.  It is apparent from public opinion surveys and everyday discourse that many Israelis hold racist views of Palestinians and the Gaza massacre makes clear that they have few qualms about killing Palestinian civilians.  It is difficult to disagree with Jimmy Carter’s comment earlier this year that “the citizens of Palestine are treated more like animals than like human beings.”  A century of conflict and four decades of occupation will do that to a people.

Furthermore, a substantial number of Israeli Jews – some 40 percent or more – believe that the Arab citizens of Israel should be “encouraged” to leave by the government.  Indeed, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni has said that if there is a two-state solution, she expected Israel’s Palestinian citizens to leave and settle in the new Palestinian state.  And then there is the recent military order issued by the IDF that is aimed at “preventing infiltration” into the West Bank.  In fact, it enables Israel to deport tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank should it choose to do so.  And, of course, the Israelis engaged in a massive cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948 and again in 1967.  Still, I do not believe Israel will resort to this horrible course of action.

The most likely outcome in the absence of a two-state solution is that Greater Israel will become a full-fledged apartheid state.  As anyone who has spent time in the Occupied Territories knows, it is already an incipient apartheid state with separate laws, separate roads, and separate housing for Israelis and Palestinians, who are essentially confined to impoverished enclaves that they can leave and enter only with great difficulty.

Israelis and their American supporters invariably bristle at the comparison to white rule in South Africa, but that is their future if they create a Greater Israel while denying full political rights to an Arab population that will soon outnumber the Jewish population in the entirety of the land.  Indeed, two former Israeli prime ministers have made this very point.  Ehud Olmert, who was Netanyahu’s predecessor, said in late November 2007 that if “the two-state solution collapses,” Israel will “face a South-African-style struggle.”  He went so far as to argue that, “as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.”  Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who is now Israel’s defense minister, said in early February of this year that, “As long as in this territory west of the Jordan River there is only one political entity called Israel it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic.  If this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.”

Other Israelis, as well as Jimmy Carter and Bishop Desmond Tutu, have warned that if Israel does not pull out of the Occupied Territories it will become an apartheid state like white-ruled South Africa.  But if I am right, the occupation is not going to end and there will not be a two-state solution.  That means Israel will complete its transformation into a full-blown apartheid state over the next decade.

In the long run, however, Israel will not be able to maintain itself as an apartheid state.  Like racist South Africa, it will eventually evolve into a democratic bi-national state whose politics will be dominated by the more numerous Palestinians.  Of course, this means that Israel faces a bleak future as a Jewish state.  Let me explain why.

For starters, the discrimination and repression that is the essence of apartheid will be increasingly visible to people all around the world.  Israel and its supporters have been able to do a good job of keeping the mainstream media in the United States from telling the truth about what Israel is doing to the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.  But the Internet is a game changer.  It not only makes it easy for the opponents of apartheid to get the real story out to the world, but it also allows Americans to learn the story that the New York Times and the Washington Post have been hiding from them.  Over time, this situation may even force these two media institutions to cover the story more accurately themselves.

The growing visibility of this issue is not just a function of the Internet.  It is also due to the fact that the plight of the Palestinians matters greatly to people all across the Arab and Islamic world, and they constantly raise the issue with Westerners.  It also matters very much to the influential human rights community, which is naturally going to be critical of Israel’s harsh treatment of the Palestinians.  It is not surprising that hardline Israelis and their American supporters are now waging a vicious smear campaign against those human rights organizations that criticize Israel.

The main problem that Israel’s defenders face, however, is that it is impossible to defend apartheid, because it is antithetical to core Western values.  How does one make a moral case for apartheid, especially in the United States, where democracy is venerated and segregation and racism are routinely condemned?  It is hard to imagine the United States having a special relationship with an apartheid state.  Indeed, it is hard to imagine the United States having much sympathy for one.  It is much easier to imagine the United States strongly opposing that racist state’s political system and working hard to change it.  Of course, many other countries around the globe would follow suit.  This is surely why former Prime Minister Olmert said that going down the apartheid road would be suicidal for Israel.

Apartheid is not only morally reprehensible, but it also guarantees that Israel will remain a strategic liability for the United States.  The recent comments of President Obama, Vice President Biden and General David Petraeus make clear that Israel’s colonization of the Occupied Territories is doing serious damage to American interests in the Middle East and surrounding areas.  As Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in March, “This is starting to get dangerous for us.  What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.  That endangers us, and it endangers regional peace.”  This situation will only get worse as Israel becomes a full-fledged apartheid state.  And as that becomes clear to more and more Americans, there is likely to be a serious erosion of support for the Jewish state on strategic grounds alone.

Hardline Israelis and their American supporters are aware of these problems, but they are betting that the lobby will defend Israel no matter what, and that its support will be sufficient to allow apartheid Israel to survive.  It might seem like a safe bet, since the lobby has played a key role in shielding Israel from American pressure up to now.  In fact, one could argue that Israel could not have gotten as far down the apartheid road as it has without the help of organizations like AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League.  But that strategy is not likely to work over the long run.

The problem with depending on the lobby for protection is that most American Jews will not back Israel if it becomes a full-fledged apartheid state.  Indeed, many of them are likely to criticize Israel and support calls for making Greater Israel a legitimate democracy.  That is obviously not the case now, but there are good reasons to think that a marked shift in the American Jewish community’s thinking about Israel is in the offing.  This is not to deny that there will be some diehards who defend apartheid Israel; but their ranks will be thin and it will be widely apparent that they are out of step with core American values.

Let me elaborate.

American Jews who care deeply about Israel can be divided into three broad categories.  The first two are what I call “righteous Jews” and the “new Afrikaners,” which are clearly definable groups that think about Israel and where it is headed in fundamentally different ways.  The third and largest group is comprised of those Jews who care a lot about Israel, but do not have clear-cut views on how to think about Greater Israel and apartheid.  Let us call this group the “great ambivalent middle.”

Righteous Jews have a powerful attachment to core liberal values.  They believe that individual rights matter greatly and that they are universal, which means they apply equally to Jews and Palestinians.  They could never support an apartheid Israel.  They also understand that the Palestinians paid an enormous price to make it possible to create Israel in 1948.  Moreover, they recognize the pain and suffering that Israel has inflicted on the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories since 1967.   Finally, most righteous Jews believe that the Palestinians deserve a viable state of their own, just as the Jews deserve their own state.  In essence, they believe that self-determination applies to Palestinians as well as Jews, and that the two-state solution is the best way to achieve that end.  Some righteous Jews, however, favor a democratic bi-national state over the two-state solution.

To give you a better sense of what I mean when I use the term righteous Jews, let me give you some names of people and organizations that I would put in this category.   The list would include Noam Chomsky, Roger Cohen, Richard Falk, Norman Finkelstein, Tony Judt, Tony Karon, Naomi Klein, MJ Rosenberg, Sara Roy, and Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss fame, just to name a few.  I would also include many of the individuals associated with J Street and everyone associated with Jewish Voice for Peace, as well as distinguished international figures such as Judge Richard Goldstone.  Furthermore, I would apply the label to the many American Jews who work for different human rights organizations, such as Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch.

On the other side we have the new Afrikaners, who will support Israel even if it is an apartheid state.  These are individuals who will back Israel no matter what it does, because they have blind loyalty to the Jewish state.  This is not to say that the new Afrikaners think that apartheid is an attractive or desirable political system, because I am sure that many of them do not.  Surely some of them favor a two-state solution and some of them probably have a serious commitment to liberal values.  The key point, however, is that they have an even deeper commitment to supporting Israel unreservedly.  The new Afrikaners will of course try to come up with clever arguments to convince themselves and others that Israel is really not an apartheid state, and that those who say it is are anti-Semites.  We are all familiar with this strategy.

I would classify most of the individuals who head the Israel lobby’s major organizations as new Afrikaners.  That list would include Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, David Harris of the American Jewish Committee, Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Ronald Lauder of the World Jewish Congress, and Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America, just to name some of the more prominent ones.  I would also include businessmen like Sheldon Adelson, Lester Crown, and Mortimer Zuckerman as well as media personalities like Fred Hiatt and Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, and Martin Peretz of the New Republic.  It would be easy to add more names to this list.

The key to determining whether the lobby can protect apartheid Israel over the long run is whether the great ambivalent middle sides with the new Afrikaners or the righteous Jews.  The new Afrikaners have to win that fight decisively for Greater Israel to survive as a racist state.

There is no question that the present balance of power favors the new Afrikaners.  When push comes to shove on issues relating to Israel, the hardliners invariably get most of those American Jews who care a lot about Israel to side with them.  The righteous Jews, on the other hand, hold considerably less sway with the great ambivalent middle, at least at this point in time.  This situation is due in good part to the fact that most American Jews – especially the elders in the community – have little understanding of how far down the apartheid road Israel has travelled and where it is ultimately headed.  They think that the two-state solution is still a viable option and that Israel remains committed to allowing the Palestinians to have their own state.  These false beliefs allow them to act as if there is little danger of Israel becoming South Africa, which makes it easy for them to side with the new Afrikaners.

This situation, however, is unsustainable over time.  Once it is widely recognized that the two-state solution is dead and Greater Israel is a reality, the righteous Jews will have two choices: support apartheid or work to help create a democratic bi-national state.  I believe that almost all of them will opt for the latter option, in large part because of their deep-seated commitment to liberal values, which renders any apartheid state abhorrent to them.  Of course, the new Afrikaners will fiercely defend apartheid Israel, because their commitment to Israel is so unconditional that it overrides any commitment they might have to liberal values.

The critical question, however, is: what will happen to those Jews who comprise the great ambivalent middle once it is clear to them that Israel is a full-fledged apartheid state and that facts on the ground have made a two state solution impossible?  Will they side with the new Afrikaners and defend apartheid Israel, or will they ally with the righteous Jews and call for making Greater Israel a true democracy?  Or will they sit silently on the sidelines?

I believe that most of the Jews in the great ambivalent middle will not defend apartheid Israel but will either keep quiet or side with the righteous Jews against the new Afrikaners, who will become increasingly marginalized over time.  And once that happens, the lobby will be unable to provide cover for Israel’s racist policies toward the Palestinians in the way it has in the past.

There are a number of reasons why there is not likely to be much support for Israel inside the American Jewish community as it looks more and more like white-ruled South Africa.  For starters, apartheid is a despicable political system and it is fundamentally at odds with basic American values as well as core Jewish values.  This is why the new Afrikaners will defend Israel on the grounds that it is not an apartheid state, and that security concerns explain why Israel has to discriminate against and oppress the Palestinians.  But again, we are rapidly reaching the point where it will be hard to miss the fact that Greater Israel is becoming a full-fledged apartheid state and that those who claim otherwise are either delusional or disingenuous.  Simply put, not many American Jews are likely to be fooled by the new Afrikaners’ arguments.

Furthermore, survey data shows that younger American Jews feel less attachment to Israel than their elders.  This is surely due to the fact that the younger generations were born after the Holocaust and after anti-Semitism had largely been eliminated from American life.  Also, Jews have been seamlessly integrated into the American mainstream, to the point where many community leaders worry that rampant inter-marriage will lead to the disappearance of American Jewry over time.  Not surprisingly, younger Jews are less disposed to see Israel as a safe haven should the goyim go on another anti-Semitic rampage, because they recognize that this is simply not going to happen here in the United States. That perspective makes them less inclined than their elders to defend Israel no matter what it does.

There is another reason why American Jews are likely to feel less connected to Israel in the years ahead.  Important changes are taking place in the demographic make-up of Israel that will make it more difficult for many of them to identify closely with the Jewish state.  When Israel was created in 1948, few ultra-orthodox Jews lived there.  In fact, ultra-orthodox Jews were deeply hostile to Zionism, which they viewed as an affront to Judaism.  Secular Jews dominated Israeli life at its founding and they still do, but their influence has been waning and is likely to decline much more in the decades ahead.  The main reason is that the ultra-orthodox are a rapidly growing percentage of the population, because of their stunningly high birthrates.  It is estimated that the average ultra-orthodox woman has 7.8 babies.  As many of you know, the Jewish areas of Jerusalem are increasingly dominated by the ultra-orthodox.  In fact, in the 2008 mayoral election in Jerusalem, an ultra-orthodox candidate boasted, “In another 15 years there will not be a secular mayor in any city in Israel.”  Of course, he was exaggerating, but his boast is indicative of the growing power of the ultra-orthodox in Israel.  One final piece of data: about one half of Israeli school children in first grade this year are either Palestinian or ultra-orthodox.  Given the high birthrates of the ultra-orthodox and the Palestinians, their percentage of the first-graders – and ultimately the population at large – will grow steadily with time.

Varying birthrates among Israel’s different communities are not the only factor that is changing the makeup of Israeli society.  There is another dynamic at play: large numbers of Israelis have left the country to live abroad and most of them are not expected to return home.  Several recent estimates suggest that between 750,000 and one million Israelis reside in other countries, and most of them are secular.  On top of that, public opinion surveys indicate that many Israelis would like to move to another country.  This situation is likely to get worse over time, because many secular Jews will not want to live in an apartheid state whose politics and daily life are increasingly shaped by the ultra-orthodox.

All of this is to say that Israel’s secular Jewish identity – which has been so powerful from the start – is slowly eroding and promises to continue eroding over time as the ultra-orthodox grow in number and influence.  That important development will make it more difficult in the years ahead for secular American Jews – who make up the bulk of the Jewish community here in the United States – to identify closely with Israel and be willing to defend it when it becomes a full-blown apartheid state. Of course, that reluctance to back Israel will be further strengthened by the fact that American Jews are among the staunchest defenders of traditional liberal values.

The bottom line is that Israel will not be able to maintain itself as an apartheid state over the long term, because it will not be able to depend on the American Jewish community to defend its loathsome policies toward the Palestinians.   And without that protection, Israel is doomed, because public opinion in the West will turn decisively against Israel, as it turns itself into a full-fledged apartheid state.

Thus, I believe that Greater Israel will eventually become a democratic bi-national state, and the Palestinians will dominate its politics, because they will outnumber the Jews in the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.

What is truly remarkable about this situation is that the Israel lobby is effectively helping Israel commit national suicide.  Israel, after all, is turning itself into an apartheid state, which, as Ehud Olmert has pointed out, is not sustainable in the modern era.  What makes this situation even more astonishing is that there is an alternative outcome which would be relatively easy to achieve and is clearly in Israel’s best interests: the two-state solution.  It is hard to understand why Israel and its American supporters are not working overtime to create a viable Palestinian state in the Occupied Territories and why instead they are moving full-speed ahead to build Greater Israel, which will be an apartheid state.  It makes no sense from either a moral or a strategic perspective.  Indeed, it is an exceptionally foolish policy.

What about the Palestinians?  I believe that the two-state solution is the best outcome for them as well as the Israelis.  However, the Palestinians have little say in whether there will be two states living side-by-side, because they are presently at the mercy of the Israelis, who are the lords of the land.  This means that the Palestinians are going to end up living in Greater Israel, which will be an apartheid state.  Again, one might even argue that they have already reached that point.  Regardless, the Palestinians will obviously have a vested interest in moving away from apartheid and toward democracy as quickly and painlessly as possible.  Of course, that will not be easy, but there are better and worse ways to achieve that end.

Let me conclude with a few words of advice to the Palestinians about how they should go about turning Greater Israel into a democratic bi-national state.

First, it is essential to recognize that the Palestinians and the Israelis are engaged in a war of ideas.  To be more specific, this is a war about two competing visions of the Middle East: a Greater Israel that is an apartheid state and one that is a democracy.  There is no question that the Palestinians have the easier case to make, as it is impossible to sell apartheid in the modern world.

Second, to win this war the Palestinians will have to adopt the South Africa strategy, which is to say that they will have to get world opinion on their side and use it to put enormous pressure on Israel to abandon apartheid and adopt democracy.  This task will not be easy because the new Afrikaners will re-double their efforts to defend Israel’s heinous policies.  Fortunately, their ability to do this is likely to diminish over time.

Third, the Palestinians most formidable weapon in this war of ideas will be the Internet, which will make it easy for them to document what Israel is doing and to get their message out to the wider world.

Fourth, the Palestinians will need to build a stable of articulate spokespersons who can connect with Western audiences and make a compelling case against apartheid.  In other words, they will need more Mustafa Barghoutis.  The Palestinians will also need allies, and not only from the Arab and Islamic world, but from countries in the West as well.   Many of the Palestinians best allies will surely be righteous Jews, who will play a key role in the fight against apartheid in Israel as they did in South Africa.

Fifth, it is essential that the Palestinians make clear that they do not intend to seek revenge against the Israeli Jews for their past crimes, but instead are deeply committed to creating a bi-national democracy in which Jews and Palestinians can live together peacefully.  The Palestinians do not want to treat the Jews the way the Jews have treated them.

Finally, the Palestinians should definitely not employ violence to defeat apartheid.  They should resist mightily for sure, but their strategy should privilege non-violent resistance.  The appropriate model is Gandhi not Mao. Violence is counter-productive because if it gets intense enough, the Israelis might think that they can expel large numbers of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza.  The Palestinians must never underestimate the danger of mass expulsion.  Furthermore, a violent new Intifada would undermine support for the Palestinian cause in the West, which is essential for winning the war of ideas, which is ultimately the battleground on which Palestine’s future will be determined.

In sum, there are great dangers ahead for the Palestinians, who will continue to suffer terribly at the hands of the Israelis for some years to come. But it does look like the Palestinians will eventually get their own state, mainly because Israel seems bent on self-destruction.  Thank you.

Professor John J. Mearsheimer is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and the co-director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago.

This transcript may be used without permission but with proper attribution to The Palestine Center. The speaker’s views do not necessarily reflect the views of The Jerusalem Fund.

Attention Deficit Democracy

Attention Deficit Democracy

A society not alert to signs of its own decay, because its ideology is a continuing myth of progress, separates itself from reality and envelops illusion.

One yardstick by which to measure the decay in our country’s political, economic, and cultural life, is the answer to this question: Do the forces of power, which have demonstrably failed, become stronger after their widely perceived damage is common knowledge?

Economic decay is all around. Poverty, unemployment, foreclosures, job export, consumer debt, pension attrition, and crumbling infrastructure are well documented. The self-destruction of the Wall Street financial giants, with their looting and draining of trillions of other people’s money, have been headlines for two years. During and after their gigantic taxpayer bailouts from Washington, DC, the banks, et al, are still the most powerful force in determining the nature of proposed corrective legislation.


“The banks own this place,” says Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), evoking the opinion of many members of a supine Congress ready to pass weak consumer and investor protection legislation while leaving dominant fewer and larger banks.


Who hasn’t felt the ripoffs and one-sided fine print of the credit card industry? A reform bill finally has passed after years of delay, again weak and incomplete. Shameless over their gouges, the companies have their attorneys already at work to design around the law’s modest strictures.


The drug and health insurance industry, swarming with thousands of lobbyists, got pretty much what they wanted in the new health law. Insurers got millions of new customers subsidized by hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars with very little regulation. The drug companies got their dream—no reimportation of cheaper identical drugs, no authority for Uncle Sam to bargain for discount prices, and a very profitable extension of monopoly patent protection for biologic drugs against cheaper, generic drug competition.


For all their gouges, for all their exclusions, their denial of claims and restrictions of benefits, for all their horrendous price increases, the two industries have come out stronger than ever politically and economically. Small wonder their stocks are rising even in a recession.


The junk food processing industry—on the defensive lately due to some excellent documentaries and exposes—are still the most influential of powers on Capitol Hill when it becomes to delaying for years a decent food safety bill, using tax dollars to pump fat, sugar and salt into the stomachs of our children, and fighting adequate inspections. Over seven thousand lives are lost due to contaminated food yearly in the US and many millions of illnesses.


The oil, gas, coal and nuclear power companies are fleecing consumers and taxpayers, depleting and imperiling the environment, yet they continue to block rational energy legislation in Congress to replace carbon and uranium with energy efficiency technology and renewables.


Still, even now after years of cost over-runs and lack of permanent storage for radioactive wastes, the nuclear industry has President Obama, and George W. Bush before him, pushing for many tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer loan guarantees for new nukes. Wall Street won’t finance such a risky technology without you, the taxpayers, guaranteeing against any accident or default.


Both Democrats and Republicans are passing on these outrageous financial and safety risks to taxpayers.


Congress, which receives the brunt of this corporate lobbying—the carrot of money and the stick of financing incumbent challengers—is more of an obstacle to change than ever. In the past after major failures of industry and commerce, there was a higher likelihood of Congressional action. Recall, the Wall Street and banking collapse in the early 1930s. Congress and Franklin Delano Roosevelt produced legislation that saved the banks, peoples’ savings and regulated the stock markets.


From the time of my book, Unsafe at Any Speed’s publication in late November 1965, it took just nine months to federally regulate the powerful auto industry for safety and fuel efficiency.


Contrast the two-year delay after the Bear Stearns collapse and still no reform legislation, and what is pending is weak.


Yet the entrenched members of Congress, responsible for this astonishing gridlock, are almost impossible to dislodge even though polls have Congress at its lowest repute ever. It is a place where the majority is terrified of the corporations and the minority can block even the most anemic legislative efforts with archaic rules, especially in the Senate.


Culturally, the canaries in the coal mine are the children. Childhood has been commercialized by the giant marketers reaching them hour by hour with junk food, violent programming, video games and bad medicine. The result—record obesity, child diabetes and other ailments.


While the companies undermine parental authority, they laugh all the way to the bank, using our public airwaves, among other media, for their lucre. They can be called electronic child molesters.


We published a book in 1996 called Children First!: A Parent’s Guide to Fighting Corporate Predators in the Media. This book is an understatement of the problem compared to the worsening of child manipulation today.


In a 24/7 entertained society frenetic with sound bites, Blackberries, iPods, text messages and emails, there is a deep need for reflection and introspection. We have to discuss face to face in living rooms, school auditoriums, village squares and town meetings what is happening to us and our diminishing democratic processes by the pressures and controls of the insatiable corporate state.


And what needs to be done from the home to the public arenas and marketplaces with old and new superior models, new accountabilities and new thinking.


For our history has shown that whenever the people get more engaged and more serious, they live better on all fronts.

 

Ralph Nader

 

30 March,2010

Nader.org