Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sacred Cows & Staying Human

From the Washington Post, an article on how the key to deadlocked budget talks may lie in cutting the military budget.
Defense spending is “a pillar of Republican strength. It’s a pillar of national strength. Look, I know there are sacred cows,” (Rep. Adam) Kinzinger said in an interview. “But we cannot afford them anymore.”
My nomination for the next sacred cow we can no longer afford: $3 billion a year in aid to Israel, used almost entirely to purchase weapons systems, and build infrastructure for the occupation of Palestinian lands.

The Israeli newspaper Ha-'aretz published a compelling blog June 27 where Bradley Burston argued that Israel cannot afford the bad p.r. and further shredding of its international reputation that resulted when they boarded the last flotilla in international waters, killing nine people.

The U.S. government may pretend to look the other way, but I'm sure they are aware that as goes Israel's reputation in the world, so goes the reputation of its chief enabler.

If you've ever been the target of violent attacks on your person or your reputation, you probably experienced a knee jerk reaction to defend yourself. If someone you love was the target, you may have experienced even more extreme anger and a wish to do something, anything, that might protect them.

That's how I'm feeling this week about my friends that are trying to sail from Athens on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla 2, an effort whose slogan is "Stay Human." Easier said than done.
"Our goal has always been to shine a light on Israel's inhumane siege of Gaza, and that, we have already accomplished. The Israeli government has felt so threatened by our little flotilla that it has unleashed its propaganda machine, spies, saboteurs,  diplomatic clout, and economic might. We are feeling, in small measure, what the people of Gaza deal with every day," says passenger and CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin.
Follow the links to see that even docked in Piraeus the flotilla has succeeded in spades in arousing the wrath of the racist, faux democratic nation of Israel -- as Athens roils with the people's response to draconian austerity measures dictated by international financiers.

My buddy Ridgely Fuller is on the "Audacity of Hope" with about 40 other people; you can follow their progress -- or lack of it -- at the website US Boat to Gaza. She reported on a few days ago:
"...the Swedish boat had its propeller shaft security a whole new meaning! Two heavily padded men with holsters arrived on our dock at 2:30am. We had a major stare down. We will double our shifts on 'watch' and probably add daytime duty... I am turning into a guard dog!"
And I woke this morning to news that the Irish ship in the flotilla has been sabatoged to such an extent that it is no longer seaworthy. Ireland is the only EU country that has issued official warning to Israel not to attack the flotilla. It has members of Parliament on board, as do many other countries. The best support our government could muster for the outreach to besieged Gazans: six signatures on a letter to the Secretary of State. (Thank you Rep. Kucinich [OH-10], Barbara Lee [CA-9] Clay [MO-1], Farr [CA-17], Filner [CA-51], and Norton [DC].)

The U.S. State Department has issued warnings, too -- to the peaceful citizens of the flotilla, that if they get hurt (in international waters) it will be their own fault. Let Hillary hear from you. You also might contact Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, who called on U.S. special forces to join Israeli forces in attacking the flotilla (funded by your tax dollars again).

Possible message to Sen. Kirk: stay human.

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