Sunday, May 29, 2016

"We Don't Get Into Politics" Say Empire's Citizens Choosing To Ignore The Dangerous Path They Travel

Boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) are efforts to bring pressure on the state of Israel to stop occupying Palestinian land, stop bulldozing Palestinian homes, and stop building apartheid walls and roads that cut Palestinians off from their agricultural land.

Here in Maine a coalition of activists -- most of whom have visited occupied Palestine and observed these human rights violations in person -- joined an international effort to put pressure on the real estate company RE/MAX LLC.   Below you can read the letter and information currently going out to many RE/MAX offices and agents around our state. 

Our assumption was that it would be unfair to target RE/MAX in Maine without giving agents information they may be lacking. 

Here is the response we received from one of the RE/MAX agents in Maine:
"We make people happy selling houses and do not get into politics."
One can only imagine the happiness of a Palestinian family evicted from their home watching it be sold to ultra-right Zionist settlers.  

The agent's response exemplifies the know-nothing mentality of today's citizens of the empire that rules the globe. In the information blackout masquerading as 24/7 "news," most hard working business women and men are indeed ignorant of the violence and human rights violations they fund as taxpayers. 
Source: Electronic Intifada, "Why Obama's military aid to Israel is breaking all records" by Ali Abunimah
They "do not get into politics" as their government sends the very wealthy state of Israel $3 billion a year in military aid

They "do not get into politics" as their government maintains more than 800 military bases in other people's countries, and drops tens of thousands of bombs per year on civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia. 
Image source: Organizing Notes, "My View from Ukraine" by Bruce Gagnon
They "do not get into politics as the U.S. (and NATO) menace Russia by supporting neo-Nazi militias in Ukraine and installing missiles aimed directly at Moscow from sites in Europe.

Real estate agents may not have studied much history when they were in school. Or maybe they did and then forgot most of it in the subsequent barrage of messaging about how exceptional "Americans" and their global empire are. 

Really, we are not that exceptional. We are just the latest in a long list of empires that overspent on their military, over reached in their expansion, and crumbled into dust after a bloody period of disintegration. 

Think Ottoman Empire here if you don't want to go any further back in history than the 20th century. 

Ok, so not everyone thinks about the big picture. Here, then, are the nitty gritty details of RE/MAX's Palestine problem:

Dear Maine RE/MAX realtor,

RE/MAX’s good name is at risk, but you can take action to protect it. Here's how.

You may not be aware that RE/MAX profits from the sale of homes in illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine. While we recognize that your office promotes the sale of local homes here in Maine, we ask that you, as a RE/MAX agent, consider the effect of being associated with a brand that participates in apartheid and human rights violations. RE/MAX is facing scrutiny from the United Nations and human rights groups around the world. For example, a recent report from Human Rights Watch entitled “Occupation, Inc.: How Settlement Businesses Contribute to Israel’s Violations of Palestinian Rights” directly indicts RE/MAX LLC. Many world leaders, including Secretary of State Kerry, have named the rapid expansion of Israeli settlements as a serious obstacle to peace in the region.

Please consider sending a message to your corporate headquarters letting them know that you do not wish to be associated with RE/MAX Israel’s illegal activities. Pasted in below is the text of a “realtor of conscience” letter you may use for this purpose.

If you have questions about this matter or would like to discuss it, we would be glad to speak with you or meet with you in person.


"The Humanitarian Impact of Israeli Settlement Colonies" United Nations report
"The Occupation of the American Mind, Documented" Mondoweiss article
"Israeli Settlements Explained" video, Institute for Middle East Understanding 

Dear RE/MAX International,
As agents currently employed by a RE/MAX franchise, we have recently had it drawn to our attention that several national organizations are organizing a boycott campaign against RE/MAX. We are deeply concerned about RE/MAX operations in Israel/Palestine and how a boycott of this scale could impact our business and thus our livelihood.
RE/MAX is a corporate leader in the real estate market with a presence in over ninety countries totaling more than 7,000 offices and 100,000 agents. With its status as a corporate leader, RE/MAX is in a unique position to set an example of ethical business practices worldwide. Yet our current operations in the occupied territories of the West Bank violate fundamental human rights and international law.
RE/MAX Israel has a commanding presence in the Israeli real estate market, referring to itself as “the number one company in Israel.” Disturbingly, RE/MAX is also the leader in selling land in the occupied Palestinian West Bank to Israeli settlers and operating in settlements condemned by international law and human rights organizations. As licensed realtors employed by RE/MAX, we have found that our customers are deeply opposed to these operations. We ask you to address the issues brought up by the boycott campaign before it grows and impacts our business.
We urge you to take action to demonstrate RE/MAX’s commitment to ethical business practices worldwide by ending RE/MAX Israel’s illegal and unethical practices in Israel/Palestine.

(Your name here)

Saturday, May 28, 2016

On Memorial Day, Is The Environmental Cost Of War Going To Be Remembered?

Memorial Day is one of several opportunities for our corporate rulers to orchestrate sentiment in favor of their wars of conquest. Because so many families in the U.S. have lost a member to combat injuries -- or lived with permanently damaged family members and friends who suffered moral injury and killed themselves later -- this holiday resonates. Peace messages are shouted down as unwelcome on this day, as well as on Armistice Day (recast as Veterans Day) and Independence Day. 

War is glorified all the time but at these times speaking out against it is vilified as "disrespecting those who served" or those who "paid the ultimate price."

It is the environment of our planet that is paying the ultimate price. Who will grieve for her on Memorial Day?

Well, this young man will. Henry Marr's mom Allie Hall picked him up at school recently and he was upset about how human beings are affecting other animals on our planet.

Is he overreacting? Scientists at Cornell Lab of Ornithology don't think so.

This Memorial Day, join me in taking the Natural Guard pledge:

I pledge to speak out about the effects of militarism on our environment, because the commons we all share that sustain life are valuable to me. 

In discussions about security and safety, I will remind others of the need to count in the cost in pollution and fuel consumption of waging wars all around the planet.

In discussions about acting soon to protect our loved ones from the effects of climate chaos, I will remind others of the need to examine the role of the Pentagon and its many contractors in contributing to planetary warming.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Show Mother Earth Some Love: Take The Natural Guard Pledge This #MothersDay

Image credit: Anthony Freda
Is this how we want our mother treated? Every one of us that cries, laughs, crawls or walks on this planet is nurtured and supported by the life system lovingly called Mother Earth. Responding to solar energy the soil, oceans and air nourish us. Our ailments find medicinal plants to soothe us, and our ailing spirit finds respite in birdsong and the babble of brooks.

For too long environmental stewardship has taken a back seat to the exercise of total domination by military forces that claim to protect us. We are told this domination is necessary for our safety. It is a lie.

The Pentagon alone burns more fossil fuels than any other organization on Mother Earth. It is scrambling to adapt to climate change and compete for even more fossil fuel being unlocked by the melting of the polar ice cap in the Arctic. It burns fuel to entertain, fuel to kill children and their grandmothers, and fuel to gain access to more fuel. This vicious cycle is precisely opposite of the cycle established on our Mother's body where life upholds and sustains future life.

Many people feel that humans are a scourge on the planet and that she would be well rid of us. I see their point, but I can't stop asking human beings to take a step back and think about where their belligerence and greed is headed. 

Because, if not here on Mother Earth, where will our grandchildren live?

Join me in taking the pledge to call out militarism's effect on the environment wherever you find yourself. Do it to say "happy Mother's Day" to the Earth.
You can order an organic cotton t-shirt with "(your state or USA) Natural Guard" by leaving a comment with your size and contact info on this blog. (Your comment will not be published.)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mothers Lead, U.S. Congress Wants To Draft Them: Happy #MothersDay

Photo source: Myles Grant on flckr
Mother's Day has long since been hijacked by consumerism and now is just one among many opportunities to feel guilty for not buying things e.g. Administrative Professionals' Day, Valentine's Day, and so on.

Mother's Day was originally established by an anti-war, pro-peace contingent of female elders. In 1870 abolitionist Julia Ward Howe sent out a call to mothers all over the planet. Her Proclamation began, “Arise, then, women of this day!” and contained the pledge: “I will not raise my children to kill another mother's child.” Mothers on both sides of the U.S. Civil War had been horrified at the violence and suffering they witnessed. 

I know that mothers on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line had long been horrified by the violence and suffering they witnessed under slavery and Reconstruction, too. Economic injustice is also a form of violence. However, I am with the mothers in believing that war is never the answer.

Nazi-era poster urging support for the effort to increase the birthrate in Germany.
More cannon fodder was needed!
But here comes the violent patriarchy I live under claiming that war rid the world of the menace of fascism in the guise of the Nazi party. We liberated the concentration camps thus ending the Holocaust! they will say, and nearly every history textbook in use will parrot this claim. 

I won't go into a lengthy examination of the falsehood of that history right now. Rather, let's look at current events: the leadership of the mothers of Odessa in the ongoing struggle there against U.S.-sponsored fascism.

Two years ago, neo-Nazis in Ukraine murdered and burned alive pro-democracy activists who had taken refuge in the Odessa Trade Union Hall. Many of these victims' female parents formed the Mothers' Committee which issued a public call you can join asking the United Nations Human Rights Committee to arrange an impartial investigation into the events of May 2, 2014.

A delegation from Maine was in Odessa this week and they reported back:
...the day [May 2, 2016] was peaceful when up to 10,000 people gathered near the Trades Union Hall to place flowers and stand with the Mothers Committee in a makeshift memorial. 
The public was blocked from having direct contact with the Trades Hall by huge numbers of local police, national security services and fully armed neo-Nazi Azov battalion members who have been incorporated into the newly formed 'National Guard' in Ukraine (equipped and trained by US Special Forces troops at a base in western Ukraine)....
The irony is that the neo-Nazis were now guarding the very grounds were those of their political ideology had committed the unpunished crimes of May 2, 2014.  The people, including the mothers of the dead, were not allowed to lay their flowers at the scene of the crime. 
Survivors describe the events of May 2, 2014 that Mothers Committee wants investigated:
On that occasion local activists were gathering petition signatures on the Kulikovo Square that fronts the Trades Hall seeking a local referendum supporting local autonomy for the people after the US created coup d'etat in Kiev.  When they were attacked by a huge horde of Nazi activists they ran inside the hall.   
The Nazis then began throwing Molotov cocktails at the hall which quickly caught fire.  As the smoke made it impossible to breathe inside the building people climbed onto the window ledges but were shot at by Nazis on the ground.  Some jumped down and were beaten to death with bats.  Many died inside the hall from smoke inhalation and burns.  Only a few safely escaped that day.
Mothers who have suffered the loss of a child are a potent force for change.

Mothers who continue to pay taxes supporting the neo-fascists of Ukraine while being kept ignorant of this fact by corporate media hyping the Russian threat are not a potent force.

I can't help but connect this fact with news that an amendment on the Pentagon budget authorization bill would require women to register for the draft for the first time in U.S. history. From Courage to Resist:
On April 27th, the House Armed Service committee voted to extend the draft to women as well as men. Their vote attached an amendment to a “must-pass” annual military spending authorization bill (HR 4909).
I'm not sure whether to interpret this as the further creep of Israel's influence in Congress, as a harbinger of a coming world war (line up that cannon fodder now), or as a sneaky maneuver to derail the massive spending bill that props up the Pentagon and its many contractors.

In any case, I can't think of a better way to observe Mother's Day this year than objecting to the effort to train our daughters to kill. Here are suggestions for action from Courage to Resist:

  • Contact your representative in Congress today and urge them to remove the amendment to H.R. 4909 to extend draft registration to women. Tell Congress that resistance will make draft registration of women unenforceable, as it has for men
  • Encourage your representative to sponsor H.R. 4523, a separate bi-partisan bill that would end draft registration entirely and abolish the Selective Service System
  • Sign the petition in support of H.R. 4253, the bill propsed to abolish the military draft
  • Spread the word to family and friends with this printable leaflet
  • Women aged 18-26 can send “I Won’t Go” or “We Won’t Go” statements for publication on with their name or anonymously.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Obama Wants To Give Israel $40 Billion In Military Aid But Does Your Senator Agree?

Photo source: Electronic Intifada "
Qalandiya checkpoint after two Palestinian siblings were slain by Israeli forces on 27 April. (
Shadi Hatem, APA images)"
Seventeen brave U.S. Senators did not sign the Graham/Coons letter supporting the gift of up to $40 Billion of military aid to Israel over the next ten years. Maine's Sen. Angus King did not sign while Sen. Susan Collins did. Collins has been in AIPAC's pocket for decades so no surprise that she singed. However, Independent King has taken some local heat for his support of Israel's war crimes in Gaza. Could this have influenced his decision? We can only hope.
Israel's apartheid wall has displaced thousands and limits the free movement of Palestinians.
Photo source: Luigi Farrauto,
Also, good for Sen. Bernie Sanders for not signing on to the Obama administration's latest craven pandering to an apartheid state that is among the wealthiest in the world and not in need of aid from U.S. taxpayers. Lately Sanders has been backing away from his former support for Israel right or wrong. This takes courage because the backlash from AIPAC and other angry Zionists will be fierce. 
Some of the senators on this list may have refused to sign out of simple fiscal conservatism.
Military aid to any country is corporate welfare for U.S. weapons manufacturers as it allows other countries to buy weapon systems at the U.S. taxpayers' expense. Countries like Israel and Saudi Arabia, with their stellar human rights records (sarcasm warning), are often the recipients of this largesse.
Perhaps you would consider sending a note of thanks to senators who did not sign on to this bad proposal. Because they will definitely be attacked by AIPAC for their stand. Here are the refuseniks to thank:
Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)
Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)
Tom Carper (D-Del.)
Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)
Al Franken (D-Minn.)
Tim Kaine (D-Va.)
Angus King (I-Maine)
Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
Rand Paul (R-Ky.)
Jack Reed (D-R.I.)
Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)
Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)
John Tester (D-Mont.)
Tom Udall (D-N.M.)

Each name has been linked to their contact page to send feedback. You may need to use a zip code to establish that you're a constituent. 

If you're a Mainer, or even if you're not, you can join me in letting Sen. Susan Collins know how you feel about her support of Israel's war crimes.

You can let your elected officials know how you feel about supporting the Israeli military with its regular extrajudicial killing of civilians, including a pregnant mother of two trying to cross into Jerusalem for medical care. If you're Christian, you can ask yourself: what would Jesus do?

Maureen Clare Murphy reporting April 27 in Electronic Intifada "Brother and sister slain at checkpoint were executed, Palestinians say":
Video from the scene shows Israeli forces turning away a Palestine Red Crescent medic and preventing a cameraman from filming. 
A brother of Maram and Ibrahim told Haaretz that he doesn’t believe his sister intended to carry out an attack, saying that she was on her way to a doctor’s appointment when she was shot dead.