By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS
The U.S Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and United for Peace and Justice held a nationwide debriefing over the telephone Tuesday last week. The conference call outlined the massive military assault against the already besieged Gaza Strip, and the consequences of our (US) augmentation of military assistance to Tel Aviv.
The massive Israeli military offense against Gaza City and its hinterlands is the most directly lethal ingredient of a cycle of escalating regional crises that are tearing across the Middle East connecting Palestine, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria with American Warships positioned tactically off Beirutâ€™s Coast!
During the week before last, between 121 to 131 Palestinian deaths occurred â€“ the great majority of whom of whom were noncombatants and many were children and even infants. These violent bouts devastated Gazaâ€™s 1.5 million already suffering residents. A coalition of English humanitarian agencies â€“ including Amnesty International and Oxfam â€“ declared that the situation is in the â€œworse than at any time since the Israeli military occupation in 1967.â€
The meeting was supervised by Phyllis Bennis, a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC and a journalist specializing in the Middle East and UN issues. Formerly based at the UN in New York, she has worked on US domination of the UN leading up to the Gulf War, economic sanctions on Iraq, international interventions and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Ms. Bennis is the author and editor of several books on Palestine, Iraq, the U.N. along with their relation to â€œthe New World Order.â€
In many ways, the Palestinian issue is only a smoke screen between the looming conflict between Iran and the West. It is curious that Bush has sent Vice President Cheney to Israel and Palestine last week to begin the â€œroadmapâ€ again.
What is the United States doing? Our Secretary of State, Condolezza Rice, has not called for a ceasefire, but merely to negotiate over unsubstantial issues. This lack of initiative from the only Superpower who could solve this imbroglio has embarrassed the moderate Palestinian and larger Arabic leadership.
In the first part of her facilitating, Phyllis called for a ceasefire between Hamas and Fatah. Further, down the road, a termination of hostilities, between Israel and Palestine, could be the next small step. After that, it is anyoneâ€™s guess?
The first interactive period for questions from the North American activists was opened from the telephonic â€œfloor.â€ Through the preliminary presentation, it became quite clear that there was a blatant linkage between Gaza and Iran.
As intimated above, our attempts to fruitlessly attempt to make it appear that the American Metropole (the â€œImperialâ€ political Center) is merely endeavoring to construct a â€œroadmapâ€ towards a peace negotiation in the Levant hides our genuine hidden strategy toward Persia.
The subject of Divestment from Israel came up. A movement that was effective in the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa. Basically, it accepts Capitalist realities. The strongest shoring has come from Europe and America.
Amongst the leaders are mainline Christian Churches and Labor Movements as well as students. It demands that large institutional investors of Western companies doing business with Israel, do not invest in the Israeli government or their companies involved in their War effort.
The liberal American Jewish Voice for Peace has initiated a dialogue with mainline Christian Churches to divest their funds from stocks in companies doing business with the Zionists. So far, the Presbyterian Church has done so, and it looks like the Methodists will follow suit. The Episcopalians have voted to proceed on a resolution that passed five years ago, but because of the Hierarchical nature of the denomination, it has been held up in a high-ranking Committee by one person.
Islamic charities work in a significant different way. I would suggest, though, that managers in Muslim charities look into your own institutional savings, and where those entities are distributing your money. Working with liberal Jews and Mainline Christians might be something to look into.
Dr. Bennis did comment that divestment was a good short-term strategy, but it cannot be effective without larger and longer stratagems.
â€œHamas has stated that it is open to a negotiated settlement, if an agreed accord could be backed up through a comprehensive Palestinian referendum,â€ it could proceed.
At the same time, Israeli settlements are expanding day-by-day despite bilateral and international concurrence, United Nations Resolutions, International law and even high-level judicial decisions within Israeliâ€™s own national edicts.
Only the intervention of the International Community can save Gaza to the nations of the living!