Wednesday, September 30, 2009

David Vitter has a linkage problem: A curious "e-update"

I'm on Sen. David Vitter's mailing list, apparently because of the petitions I've signed and letters I've written to him. I usually don't read his messages. They're enough to give anyone heartburn who recognizes his blatant lies and disinformation that flow out of his mouth every time he opens it. I think he qualifies as a pathological liar. (Just as some things don't take a rocket scientist to know, others don't take a clinical psychologist.) For starters, a serial adulterer has to be a pathological liar.

Vitter's infidelities to Louisiana citizens, whose will he's supposed to represent, are innumerable. He blatantly represents the industries who fund his campaigns and keep him in office so he can do their bidding. He misrepresents the facts to his constituents, then extracts opinions from them based on those lies and represents them as their will rather than what they really are: the will of the oil and gas industry and the health insurance and pharmaceutical industry, meanwhile pretending that his constituents who disagree with him have never told him so. (Granted, many don't bother, knowing it won't make a difference in his positions.) Take for example his work on behalf of the oil industry, under the caption "PROMOTING OIL AND GAS DEVELOPMENT IN THE OCS." This has nothing to do with lowering prices the public pays at the gas pump or to the utility company, but with acquiring more leases for the oil and gas companies so they can sit on them until its most profitable for them to drill, just as they're doing now with the offshore leases they already have but aren't using. And, besides, once they decide to drill, estimates are that it could take as long as 10 years for oil to reach the gas pump. Oil and natural gas wells are routinely capped in order to control prices most beneficial to the lesees. This canard has been going on for some time now. Newt Gingrich has been propagandizing about it full throttle; and, of course, we've been treated to "Drill-Baby-Drill" Palin's lies as well.

What really gets my goat, though, is Vitter's bragging about his attacks against Acorn and President Obama's "czars," as if these are the "good works" Catholicism teaches rather than more grave sins he needs to confess, and this time do real penance. His behavior is that of the criminal who gets clean away with mischief and then brags about it, pretending his crimes were actually moral acts. David Vitter's hypocricy knows no bounds. You could say his conscience became unlinked from his actions. He's achieved the quest of Dr. Jeckyll through the magic potient of politics. He can lie to and steal from his constituents and the greater public all day, and do the same in his personal life, enabled by the morally bankrupt GOP and a stand-by-her-creep wife, because he's linked to his misrepresentations. They say that if you lie enough, you can convince yourslef of your own falsehoods.

But what irks me even more, and should everyone else, is Vitter's disengenous sympathy for the victims of Hurricane Rita. Anyone who sees through Vitter's obstruction of real health care reform and recognizes that he's doing exactly what the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries want him to do, even though it means that Louisianians will lose their own lives or those of their loved ones, and that more Louisianians, including victims of Hurricane Rita, losing their homes. Anyone who sees this knows that David Vitter has no humanity. He's unlinked from the basic honesty and empathy that allows one to imagine the needs of others.

David Vitter has had no qualms about being a "John" and cavorting with prostitutes, nor has he any about prostituting himself to the oil and gas and the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries. In fact, it appears that he'll perform for anyone peddling their influence, as long as they're willing to pay his price. He has a sizeable war chest, enough to launch a negative campaign agaist Rep. Charlie Melancon throughout the internet as soon as he got wind that he was likely to challenge him in 2010. In fact, that's how I received the welcomed news. Hardly a day had gone by that I didn't wonder who would run against him.

Yes, Vitter has a large war chest, thanks to those industries, to keep up his negativity throughout 2010, even after he's unseated. One thing no one has ever accused the malcontent David Vitter of having, though, is a sense of humor. Even so, his latest "e-update" isn't without humor, inadvertent as it might be. You see, the e-update is rather confused. Click on the heading of "REMEMBERING HURRICANE RITA," and you're taken to a rememberance of 9-11 victims. Click on "REIGNING IN THE PRESIDENT'S CZARS," and you're met with a whining video Vitter's whining response to President Obama's heath insurance reform, and so on. By the way, does anyone know why Vitter's face behaves like a ball of dough in the hands of a very unhappy baker? In all fairness, if you click on "here" in each section, you're treated to Vitter's pompous musings and "good works" on the respective topics. We might say these linking errors are virtual symptoms of his increasing moral unlinkage that we've been witnessed over the past few years.

By all means, though, explore Vitter's e-update and its erroneous and accurate links. Read them and get angry at the lies and hypocricy. Then read James Carville's letter of support for Rep. Charlie Melancon, who will hopefully defeat Vitter in 2010. Melancon may be a Blue Dog Democrat, but he'll have to do until a the real thing--aprogressive--comes along. He'll be a vast improvement over David Vitter.

We still have a few hours to help him meet his goal of $25,000 of grassroots support.


This month, we recognized the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Rita’s impact on Louisiana. I also made a move to reduce the power of the president’s “czars” and to increase our gas and energy exploration to help reduce costs and create new jobs.

Below you can read about these and other issues that I’m working on, such as ensuring that your tax dollars don’t go to ACORN.

P.S. – Please feel free to forward the newsletter to your friends, neighbors and business associates, and encourage them to sign up for their own copy by visiting my Web site at

Photo Spotlight

Here I am pictured with representatives of the Louisiana Green Building Council when they came by my DC office to talk about the efforts and goals of their organization.


This past week, we paused to remember the impact of Hurricane Rita on southwest Louisiana. Rita’s significant impact on our state is often overlooked by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina but this event affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of our friends and neighbors. On the fourth anniversary of Rita’s impact, I wanted to remember this event and recognize the spirit and determination of southwest Louisianians as they continue the recovery process even today. Read the text of my full statement here.

This month, I filed an amendment that would limit the power of the president’s “czars” to make and implement policy. These advisors now number somewhere in the 20s, and they wield significant power over domestic programs and government agencies despite their not being approved by the Senate like members of the president’s cabinet. You can read more about this amendment here.


Last year, the prohibitions on OCS drilling expired, allowing us to move ahead with a more sensible approach to gas and energy exploration that would allow us to greatly reduce costs on American families. But now we are seeing delays from the Obama Administration that would stall that progress we made. That’s why I filed an amendment to the Interior-Environment appropriations bill that would prevent funds from being used to delay the implementation of an expanding drilling program that would boost our economy and increase our gas and energy supplies. You can learn more about the amendment here at my website.


Over the past year, we’ve all seen stories about the voter fraud and other allegations against the activist group ACORN. Last week the U.S. Senate voted to block future taxpayer dollars from being awarded to ACORN. But this month, it came to my attention that ACORN had been awarded a $1 million grant from a program that was designed to assist firefighters and fire departments. This is simply unacceptable, and I wrote a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano asking her to rescind this grant and see that this money goes to those fire departments in the need of most assistance. To learn more about this situation, click here.

** To unsubscribe please visit my web site here. " Please do not reply to this email.

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v-update (one Vitter would prefer you not see):

Friday, September 18, 2009

Was Congressman Joe Wilson inadvertently framed?

In Washington, things are rarely what they seem. Was Congressman Joe Wilson inadvertently framed by fellow Republicans, thereby becoming the ass of an abandoned conspiracy, the butt of endless jokes and the target of numerous satires? SNL presents what really happened. (It’s their job to tell the underlying truth.)

It’s a shame Rep. Charles Boustany wasn’t in on the scheme. Had he been, he might have read the president’s speech, or at least the part that says, “If you misrepresent what’s in this plan, we will call you out.” Had he done so, he wouldn’t have become the second lying fool since Obama’s speech who needed to be called out, the “officer and gentleman,” as his foremost apologists called Rep. Wilson, being the first.

In SNL’s “Weekend Update,” Louisiana’s “James Carville” comments on the September 12 rally in Washington, sponsored by the right-wing FreedomWorks Foundation, and the “eyes-wide-shut” treatment he recommends for people like Rep. Wilson. Remember, it was Carville, an ardent fan of his alma mater’s football team, the LSU Tigers, who coined the adage that has redefined politics as being more, or rather less, than Webster’s art and science of government: “Politics is a contact sport.”

Seth Meyers:  Last week thousands of protesters from the conservative Tea Party Movement converged on Washington, voicing their concerns about Obama’s health-care plan and increased government spending. Here to comment is Democratic political consultant James Carville.

“James Carville”:  Thank you, Seth Meyers

SM:  So, um, James, what do you think of these protesters?

JC:  Oh, did you see these people out there protestin’? Grown men dressed up as jokers and goblins and Hitlers? I mean, these people are first-class crazy. And I should know, Seth, because I’m as crazy as they come. I mean, look at me! I see this in the mirror every morning and I think, “Yep, that’s a good look!” Come on, I look like a skel-e-tor.

SM:  Well, surely they’re not all crazy. I mean, what do you make of the argument that there are moderate conservatives in the crowd?

JC: No, Seth, there ain’t no moderates in the Tea Party. They only seem moderate ’cause they’re surrounded by the super-crazies. It’s like when a midget stands next to a Smart Car: “You ain’t tall, midget, you just clever!”

SM:  When do uh... When exactly do little people stand next to Smart Cars?

JC:  Oh, you come on down to Louisiana, you’ll get an eyeful of clever little people.

SM:  So, how do you think the White House should respond to these demonstrators?

JC:  Ignore ’em! I mean, when a crazy drifter comes up to you on the street and says, “Hey, Snake Face, you the Devil!” You don’t stop and engage with him. You just keep walkin’. I mean, I don’t know why we entertain these backwater knockaloops. I mean, in the middle of a school assembly, no one says, “Hey, hey! Let’s hear from the creepy janitor who fought in Vietnam. I bet he has a good suggestion for prom themes!” Dont go near ’em, Seth, ’cause you’re goin’ to a nightmare prom!

SM:  OK, I get it. So, your advice is to ignore the pretesters out in the street. But what do you do with elected officials like Joe Wilson? Were you pleased that the congress voted to rebuke him?

JC:  Rebuke? Seth, no. Rebuke? Gimme a break. You gotta handle things Old School. I mean, you break into Joe Wilson’s house in the middle of the night. You throw a garbage bag over his head and you drag him to some mansion in the woods—OK?—there there’s a circle of eyes-wide-shut fellows in tuxedos and them weird Venetian masks, what, with them big noses, what—beak masks!—and you rip the bag off, and you just stare at him ’til he cries. Next mornin’, he wakes up, he doesn’t know...“Was that a dream?” What was that?” Well, what you do is you leave a little mask on his pillow. Like, “Wuh-oh! That coulda been real!

SM:  Wow! That uh, that sounds really illegal.

JC:  Illegal! You’re a cute kid, Seth Meyers.

Watch it:*

*By the way, we native Louisianians do tend to get shorter and shorter the farther south we are.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Daniel Ellsberg: "Telling the truth ... can make the difference"

In 1969 one man made the difference between continued escalation of a perpetual war and ending it. To make that difference, he told the truth at great personal cost and risk. Telling the truth was in the form of leaking 7,000 pages of the secret history of the Vietnam War, which he smuggled from his office in the Pentagon, where he worked as a top military analyst for the Rand Corporation. That act led to the fall of the Nixon administration and ultimately to the end of the war.

The man who made the difference is, of course, Daniel Ellsberg, whose whistleblowing story is the subject of a documentary film released this year, the fortieth anniversary of that leak that changed the course of U.S. and world history. The film of his gripping story —The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers — opens today at New York's Film Forum. It was none other than Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State in the Nixon administration, who called Ellsberg "the most dangerous man in America." What was a perceived as a danger to one of the world's most infamous unindicted war criminals is a man of conscience whose courage will hopefully be emulated in the coming months and years.

Here's the trailer:

trailer: The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and The Pentagon Papers
produced and directed by Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith

Daniel Ellsberg, his wife of more than forty years, Patricia Ellsberg, and the film's co-director Judith Ehrlich were guests this morning on Democracy Now! to discuss the film with Amy Goodman. At the end of the interview, interspersed with segments of the trailer, Goodman asked Ellsberg what, in light of his experience, he thinks should be done today.
Ellsberg: I look at this film and I watch the bombs falling and all I can see in my mind  are the bombs—the same bombs falling over Afghanistan or Vietnamistan, and Iraq right now. And we're really facing at this moment a crisis, a decision that's just like the crisis in this film, which I failed at the time,  where the president is doing something that I feel will be a disaster, and I kept my mouth shut about it: the change from 70,000 men in the spring of 65 to an open-ended commitent, starting with another 50,00, which I knew was on the way to hundreds of thousands. I didn't tell about that, and nor did anyone else. There was a lot of dissent in the administration about that,  but we were overruled we saluted Clark Clifford, Vice President Humphrey.
Again we have a vice president who is apparently against the application, another parallel. James Jones, a military man, who can see what I can see, what anyone can see who has memories of Vietnam. There is no success at the end of this tunnel. There's only a statemate, which could persist indefinitely.
Goodman: Do you think we'll see a new "Dan Ellsberg"?
Ellsberg: We need people to put out, to tell the truth, and to do it not the way I did--not after the escalation, not after the bombs are falling--but right now, right now; and for the congress to hold the hearings that will entertain those people.

The film The Most Dangerous Man opens today at the Film Forum, and then it will be in
Santa Monica, which is right across from the Rand Corporation, significantly, on the fortieth anniversary of the leak of the Pentagon Papers.
Ellsberg: I wish it were in D.C. this month We're gonna do everything we can to get it there. Because I think this film actually, by showing that actions by an individual telling the truth at great cost or risk, can make the difference. And that's the critical thing that keeps people's mouths shut: it won't make any difference.

(see link for full transcript)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bill Fletcher, Jr.: The Obama Moment and the Implications for the Progressive Movement

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is currently director of field services and education for President of American Federation of Governmental Employees (AFGE), and executive editor of Black Commentator, and was from 2002-2006 president and CEO TransAfrica Forum. In March 2008, he co-authored with Tom Hayden, Daniel Glover, and Barbara Ehrenreich an op-ed published in the Nation called "Progressives for Obama":

All American progressives should unite for Barack Obama. We descend from the proud tradition of independent social movements that have made America a more just and democratic country. We believe that the movement today supporting Barack Obama continues this great tradition of grassroots participation, drawing millions of people out of apathy and into participation in the decisions that affect all our lives. We believe that Barack Obama's very biography reflects the positive potential of the globalization process that also contains such grave threats to our democracy when shaped only by the narrow interests of private corporations in an unregulated global marketplace. We should instead be globalizing the values of equality, a living wage and environmental sustainability in the new world order, not hoping our deepest concerns will be protected by trickle-down economics or charitable billionaires. By its very existence, the Obama campaign will stimulate a vision of globalization from below.
It goes on with similar optimism throughout. Over a year later, on August 8, Fletcher delivered the keynote address at the banquet of the Veterans for Peace national convention about "the Obama moment" and what progressives must do now. "[Obama's] there now," he says, "but he's not necessarily dong what we had hoped that he would do."

As Ed Shultz of MSNBC's "Ed Show" says, "You dance with the one who brung you," and Fletcher says we can't just sit back and hope for the best. We have to compell Obama "be what he's supposed to be." Fletcher issues a warning about the danger of the emerging right-wing populist movement. Watch/listen to the video. It's a good rallying speech for all progressives and especially for veterans, whom he tells must be a the forefront of  future anlayses of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, providing the "summation of those atrocities," as others attempt to write false histories, as they did about the Vietnam War.


Bill Fletcher, Jr.
keynote address, Veterans for Peace National Convention Banquet
August 8, 2009

Governor Jindal's High-Speed Jinx

Louisianians' hopes of a high-speed railway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge are being dashed by their governor's determination to serve the Republican Party rather than his constituents. His high profile in the national political arena since being elected governor of Louisiana in 2007 is hurting Louisiana. The scrapping of the high-speed railway is only the latest instance of how the political ambitions of Jindal are but the latest means of how the Republican Party is injuring Louisiana, as if the prejudicial treatment by the Bush administration weren't enough for a couple of centuries' abuse.

Piyush "Bobby" Jindhal was elected governor of Louisiana following Kathleen Babineaux Blanco's disasterous performance in her preparation for and response to the catastrophic levee breaks in New Orleans related to Hurricane Katrina. Jindhal had lost the runoff to Blanco in 2004, mostly because James Carville traveled to Louisiana at the eleventh hour, and the Blanco campaign launched a series of negative ads, to which Jindhal refused to respond in kind. He was criticized then for being a policy wonk without counterbalancing compassion enough to allow him to see people as more than merely statistical data. That criticism nearly defeated him in his race in 2007.

His Democratic opponant, Walter Boasso, ran a campaign ad in which Slidell resident Lynn McNiece describes how Jindhal, while Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, took draconian measures to slash the budget, which resulted in a nursing home's dumping McNiece's mentally disabled brother on the streets, without notifying his family. A court later ruled against Jindal and the state."Bobby Jindal has no heart," she says. "If I could tell Bobby Jindal anything, I would tell him, 'Shame on you! Shame on you!'"

That ad by itself was probably enough to sink Jindal's campaign had Hurricanes Katrina and Rita not occurred, and had Louisiana not suffered from the mismanagement of the state's Road Home program. It had been all along competence, not compassion, that had been lacking. Jindal responded with a message in which he more or less apologized for his past youthful policy actions. Filmed in the intimate setting of their living room, he and his wife, Supriya, described how the birth of their second child in 2004 had transformed them from uncompassionate Brahmans to people who understood the need for all Louisianians to have access to health care. Their son Shaan had been born with a heart defect and had to have open heart surgery in order to save his life. To see their tiny helpless infant, whose life hinged on his parents' access to medical care changed their lives. No one should be denied health care in this country, they said with great eanestness.

Even though all traces of the ad have mysteriously disappeared from the internet, I remember it well. What I remember most about it is wondering if they would have to face a similar threat in their own lives about everything in order for them to have an understanding of Louisianians, the populace Bobby Jindal and his wife were trying to persuade us to believe he had the compentence and the compassion to represent by holding the state's highest and most powerful office.

In October 2007, Jindal won the gubernatorial race with approximately 54% of the vote in the open primary. Less than a year later, he enraged citizens by refusing to veto a pay raise the House representatives voted for themselves, drawing the ire of Democrats and Republicans alike, and a number of recall petitions against legislators and the governor. Jindal eventually acquiesced, but he has gone on to alienate Democrats, many of whom crossed party lines to vote for him, by interpreting his election victory as a mandate for his far-right ideology rather than for competence in managing the large budget due to the influx of federal funds to rebuild South Louisiana. Despite declining John McCain's offer to be his running mate on the 2008 Republican ticket, which Jindal recently confirmed, the Louisiana governor's high profile on the naitonal stage has done more damage to the state than it has helped it, beginning with his embarrassing Repblican response to President Obama's first State of the Union Address that was harshly criticized by Republicans as well as Democrats as being regretably memorable, mainly for its fatuousness.

"Pre-existing condition" Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal delivers
Republican Party response to President Obama's State of the Union Address
February 24, 2009

But the Republican Party is desperate. Besides, Jindal is a lot smarter than he sounded that night, and Sarah Palin isn't nearly as smart as she sounds, so they're short on options. But, because Jindall is compelled to mouth off about his objections--and an those of the Republican Party, to which he marches in lock-step--to everything the Obama administration does, he's been inevitably called out in charges of hypocricy by none other than Keith Olbermann on his popular MSNBC show "Countdown" and, worse, Jon Stewart on the "Daily Show." That's how South Louisiana has lost its opportunity to finally have that high-speed rail between Baton Rouge and New Orleans we've long wanted and had hopes of finally getting.

As the Republican Party has floundered about in its identity crisis, Governor Jindal continues to be seen as a 2012 hopeful to challenge President Obama. Therefore, he has been a leading voice of the opposition, which in turn makes him a lightening rod for criticism. And now that Mardi Gras Republic Party bedtime story has come back to bite Louisianians. Among Jindal's many criticisms of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats has been the stimulus bill. During his response of February 24 (Mardi Gras) on behalf of the Republican Party, Jindal spoke of  "wasteful spending" in "the largest government spending bill in history," citing, among other projects, the $8 billion for high-speed railways.

After his harsh words on the stimulus bill on behalf of the Republican Party, Jindal was the first governor to reject stimulus money. Then, as Jon Stewart has noted, Jindal awarded a group of businessmen federal stimulus money, represented by a giant novelty check, whose signatory was printed as "Governor Bobby Jindal."

On August 19, Keith Olbermann featured Governor Jindal as the "Worse Person in the World," only marginally better than Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade as runners-up "Worser," and the "Worst," Rush Limbaugh for their anti-Semitism and homophobia.

Jindal's response to accusations of hypocricy was swift. Just two days later, the secretary of the Department of Transportation and Development announced they had killed the idea. A spokesperson for the Department explained to the Times Picayune that the operating costs could not be covered by projected budgets, and a state employee who had contacted the federal transporation office about applying for funds was only "preparing options for the possible use of federal money, but this idea was not even vetted by the department's secretary and the department will not submit an application on it."

So much for a progressive idea whose time might have finally come if not for a cowardly, reactionary governor who would prefer to reverse himself and retreat rather than admit he may have misspoken. After all, it doesn't make Jindal any less of a hypocrite for changing his mind after his administration considered using stimulus money he called "wasteful" than if he had actually applied for it. It only means he's hypocritical and a clumsy politician who reverses himself when he thinks it's in the best interest of his Republican Party rather than the public.

Weekly, Bobby Jindal is proving he's not only a not ready for prime-time, but he's not ready to focus on being the best governor he can be for Louisiana. He is, alas, yet another politician, when what we need is a statesman.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The False McCaughey

Yesterday. All her troubles seemed so far away. But now it looks as though they're here to stay. . . .

Betsy McCaughey was giddy over her opportunity to go on the Daily Show and prove to Jon Stewart and his enormous audience that the sections in the Senate healthcare reform legislation to which she most strongly objected pose a deadly threat to senior citizens. McCaughey is to anti-healthcare reform what Orly Taitz is to the "birther" movement, only McCaughey has had far more credibility. Until that fateful Jon Stewart interview on Thursday. The next day Cantel Medical Corporation issued a press release stating that it had received from Betsy McCaughey a letter of resignation as a director, "to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest during the national debate over healthcare reform."

Cantel Medical, which which Forbes describes as being in the healthcare sector in the business of medical instruments and supplies, states on the header of its website that it's "Dedicated to Infection Prevention & Control." McCaughey was chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, which is ironic since that makes her the chairman of a death panel of sorts. If her committee had the power to reduce deaths, could it also increase them? If she and her Republican cohorts succeed in once again killing health insurance and healthcare reforms, she will indeed be responsible for increasing deaths. Because of the significant role she has played in preventing Congress from passing reforms fifteen years ago, she can certainly be said to have been responsible for quite a few deaths of Americans who would not have died had they had proper medical attention to which they would have had access had those reforms been passed. Discrediting the "Angel of Deathers" Betsy McCaughey is therefore no small victory.

It was, after all, Betsy McCaughey who is credited with almost single-handedly torpedoing the Clintons' healthcare reform legislation in 1994 with a couple of hit pieces--one an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, the second a cover story for Marty Peretz that appeared in The New Republic just before President Clinton's State of the Union Address.

If McCaughey has had more credibility than the leader of the birthers, it's undeserved, for it's she who's credited with inventing the hysteria over the "death panels" that were said to condemn the elderly to early graves. The trouble with McCaughey is she apparently does fine as long as she launches her sorties from the safety of her right-wing camp, but put her head to head with a leftist comic and she's comes across as ditzy as the lawyer/dentist/realtor Taitz, whose law degree is from an online course. McCaughey's rhetorical skills were outmatched by Stewart's. "We can discuss the slippery slope if you want, but that's not what this says." Her attempt to win points by resorting to the fallacy of authority--"I have a Ph.D.!--fell flat as well. Surely I wasn't the only one to ask, "Yes, but from where?" It might seem that she ordered her degree online. But it's from Columbia.

It just goes to show. No amount of education can cure the bigotry of ideologues. More on her other interesting causes later. For now, enjoy the "Real McCaughey" as she's exposed by Jon Stewart as a fraud, nothing but a Republican operative; and then the celebrations, as Rachel Maddow relishes the takedown and her resignation from Cantel, and as Keith Olbermann awards her Worst Person In The World on August 21, 2009.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Two-State Solution: Simon says history has passed peace by.

Ten days after Israel's brutal assault on Gaza began, Bob Simon, the veteran CBS Middle East correspondent appeared on Charlie Rose to talk about his upcoming story on "60 Minutes." The segment was not on Gaza, he told Rose, but rather on the West Bank, which he explained is the main theater for the "Israeli-Palestinian conflict." But has history passed by the possibility of a peaceful resolution of the decades-long conflict? Simon believes it has, not because of Palestinians, as most journalists in the dominant media in the U.S. have claimed for years, but rather because of the West Bank settlers, who by now, thanks to past administrations of Israel, backed by the U.S., have not only allowed but enabled and encouraged. There are now over three hundred million settlers in the West Bank, a number growing by the day. Removing them, which is the only way to establish a Palestinian state, would result in the breaking apart of Israel's military, since so many soldiers are settlers, and the collapse of the government―in short, a civil war.

It has always been necessary for the political will for the two-state solution, which has been touted by leaders of Israel and the U.S. for decades now, to come from a U.S. president. But none has forced Israel to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve the two states. None has had the courage. The only possibility for a somewhat peaceful resolution now is if President Obama practices the tough love necessary. If he chooses to do so, he'll most likely do so during his first two years in office, says Simon.

His assessment is, as Rose says, pessimistic. Some say it's nevertheless realistic. Many are surprised that Bob Simon, whose pro-Israel bias has been evident in all his previous reporting, is suddenly critical of Israel. However, oddly enough, he has no criticism at all of Israel's offensive taking place at the moment of the interview, none of the barring of journalists from entering Gaza. Suddenly he's decided to give the American public an idea of what it has been supporting all these decades, now that, in his estimation, it's all but too late to do anything about it. There is an urgency to driving the point home that there can be no solution without the settlers being addressed. While Israelis and their supporters are panicking that the U.S. public are finally learning from the major U.S. TV news magazine the extent of the settlement problem, Simon fails to mention that Israel is in violation of international law by not evacuating the settlers from the West Bank. Before people write letters to CBS to thank it for freeing itself from its former pro-Israel bias, watch the "60 Minutes" segment (below) and the interview (and/or read the transcript) and recognize Simon's own ambivalence and the contradictions of many of his messages. Then write a letter to thank CBS.

Interviews with Andrea Mitchell and Bob Simon, the latter of which begins at 30:26


Charlie Rose: Tell me just how you see this invasion of the Gaza, and what you see as the Israeli objective, and what the endgame might be.

Bob Simon: I see it as just one more chapter in Israel’s attempt to protect its borders, which has been largely unsuccessful. The Israelis tried it in Lebanon. Right now the borders are quiet, but that’s bound to flare up again. They’re trying it again in Gaza. I think the endgame will be some deal which will seal the Gaza-Egyptian border, so that the arms that Hamas has been getting through Egypt from Iran, to Syria, to Egypt, which have been getting into Gaza through tunnels, that they’ll be stopped. The Israelis have been bombing the tunnels, but they know the tunnels can be rebuilt very quickly. So I think the endgame is a deal whereby there will be international troops stationed on the Egyptian side of the border, which presumably will at least try to attempt to keep arms out of those tunnels going into Gaza. I think the Israelis could live with that as a solution.

CR: And that's troops from the UN? Or from where?

BS: From international troops. I don’t think that’s been negotiated yet. Most of them would probably be Egyptian troops, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Americans have a role there. Ultimately, everyone knows that the Americans rule the roost, that what the Americans say will be determined by what the Americans do.

CR: What the Israelis do will be determined by what the American say? Or, or what?

BS: The Israelis will always be determined by what the Americans say, but there hasn’t been a voice limiting the Israelis in any way in several administrations. Particularly the Bush administration just gave the Israelis carte blanche to do whatever they wanted to do, whatever they felt they needed to do.

CR: Do you think the Israelis believe it’ll be different under an Obama administration?

BS: The Israelis are very afraid that it will be different, that Obama doesn’t owe them anything, that Obama, even though he made very pro-Israeli statements during the campaign—that’s to be expected--that the Obama administration will be a different, will sing a different song altogether. And the one thing you know is that it will stop before January 20.

CR: So that they can give a free range to the new president to be...make choices at that time.

BS: So that they will not anger the new administration right away, so they can bow to the new administration to try its own had at doing what the administration needs to do.

CR: When you look at Hamas and what they did after the ceasefire, why did they do it? I mean, and did they know that if they did it would lead to the circumstance they find themselves in now?

BS: I think like any guerilla organization, whether you call Hamas an orthodox guerilla organization or not, their objective is always to provoke a large, disproportionate response from the, quote, colonial, unquote, empire, which will then mobilize public opinion locally and worldwide against the oppressor. That is, I think, Hamas’s objective. They knew perfectly well when they were firing an increasing number of rockets into Israel that the Israelis were gonna to hit them, and hit them very hard. This is not a surprise, it was part of the script from the very beginning.

CS: And they knew what the reaction would be from the Arab street.

BS: Of course, the Arab street supports them enormously, which was also predictable. But that poses all sorts of problems for the Arab governments, which are no more fond of Hamas than the Israelis are, and the governments are torn between the street and what they want in Gaza, which is to see Hamas licked.

CR: Wait a minute...[laughter] Why didn’t the Arab...all those Arabs who are famil...who were friends of the Palestinian government that’s on the West Bank do more about Hamas during the time leading up to the present circumstance?

BS: There wasn’t all that much to be done. The people who are the sorriest about Hamas’s victory in Gaza are the Palestinians on the West Bank, and are the Egyptians and the Jordanians, who were watching on, but couldn’t really do anything.

CR: Because it was a net loss for the Palestinian Authority.

BS: That’s right.

CR: And their leverage in Gaza.

BS: That’s right. And the last thing that the Arab governments neighboring Gaza, and at a certain distance from Gaza, want is a radical influence on their borders, so they’ve been dead-bent against getting rid of Hamas, but there wasn’t any way for them to do it

CR: How intent are those countries, Syria—and they may be different state by state-- Jordan, Egypt, Syria—to a kind of peace settlement that is suggested by King Abdullah II, of Saudi Arabia?

BS: Well that’s primarily dealing with the West Bank. Gaza was part of the West Bank since 1967, but since the Hamas victory has pretty much ceded...seceded from the West Bank and is now an island of its own. But King Abdullah’s peace plan is very popular in the Middle East, and I think popular in the United States, even though the Americans can’t really pronounce themselves on it yet.

CR: So that leads me to this piece that you have done from the West Bank. Tell me what you did and what conclusions you have come to.

BS: Well, um, while the Gaza theater was lit up, our executive producer, Jeff Fager, had the intelligent idea of sending us to the West Bank, which wasn’t getting any attention at all. But the West Bank is the main battle front, the main theater, for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and what we were going there to see is whether in fact peace was possible, or whether history had passed peace by. The solution for the West Bank problem, the West Bank-Israeli problem, has always been, or has been for many, many decades now, a two-state solution: Israel on one side, Palestine, West Bank on the other side. And the question was whether this is still possible, or whether it’s just inconceiveable by now.

CR: And you think, what?

BS: I think history has passed it by. I think mainly because the Israelis have sent so many settlers, so many Jewish Israeli settlers to the West Bank—there are now close to 300,000 of them—that removing these settlers, which has to be done for the Palestinians...

CR: Is not politically not viable in Israel…

BS: Is not and not politically viable, and is not militarily viable. The radical settlers are convinced that if the army would ever be sent in to evacuate settlers, first of all the government would fold within a day, which I think is probably true; and, second, if the army went in, so many of the soldiers now are religious guys, that the army would break apart.

CR: But would it have been poss… and this is not fair, and it's an unfair question and can't be answered, but nevertheless: suppose it was Prime-Minister Rabin or Prime-Minister Sharon...a different answer?

BS: I was so sentimentally attached to Prime Minister Rabin that I think that anything might have been possible with Rabin, which is why he was killed. Uh, Sharon? No! I mean Sharon: the man who created the settlements, who got the settlers going into the West Bank, who was the prime settler of them all, who encouraged them, who built the settlements; this guy, by the time he was prime-minister, for some time, the settlers were dead set against him.

CR: Exactly, and he was prepared to take those settlers in the Gaza and bring them out.

CR: Yeah. And if the West Bank or anything comparable to Gaza isn't taken out by now...

CR: Yeah, and they weren't crazy about the Gaza anyway...

BS: That's right. And then Gaza was done without any violence to speak of... The Israeli government evacuated one settlement three years ago called Amona, which had just about a dozen families in it, and there were pitched battles between the settlers and the army. It was, in fact, the first time you really saw pitched battles between Jew and Jew since the creation of the state.

CR: So we can talk about the other Arab initiative that has to do with Jerusalem, has to do with the right of return, has to do with the West Bank and territory, and has to do with one other point I'm forgetting... We can talk about that, but it’s all moot now, in your judgment, because…

BS: I think it's all moot now. Ironically, even though...

CR: History has passed that option, which everyone agreed on was a logical solution, by.

BS: Even in the last few years when the two-state solution was being pushed by the Americans, the number of Israelis who have moved into the West Bank has exceeded the numbers in any time in the past, so the problem gets exacerbated every day. Now there’s one possibility, there's one possibility that could conceivably alter the situation. And that is for an American president to dictate to the Israelis—nothing short of a dictation to the Israelis that the West Bank settlements must be evacuated, or American aid stops, American support stops, they’re on their own. The Israelis would panic at that thought. The Israelis get very, very nervous whenever there is any tension between Israel and the United States. But an American president who took that position would be heard, and the Israelis would be in desperate straits. Would any president be willing to do that?

CR: That’s was going to be my next question.

BS: That's very, very difficult to imagine.

CR: Especially in the first term.

BS: Well, the first term would be his only chance—the first couple of years of the first term, because after that he’s looking forward too much to being re-elected

CR: Well, but my point is that President Kennedy, for example, was said to have said to have different ideas of what he might do in Vietnam, because he would have the re-election past him.

BS: Right, right.

CR: But that’s a moot point, because that’s not what we’re going to see. Is, is? I’ve never understood this: What real influence does America have on Israeli politicians other than the prospect of withdrawal of aid, which is unlikely to happen because of the political dynamic.

BS: Which is unthinkable, other than that...

CR: And because, it's not just politics but people believe in the security of Israel, and they believe that Israel as a democracy represents something very special.

BS: And they believe that domestic American politics would forbid it.

CR: Exactly.

BS: The only president who took something of a strong stance against Israel was George Bush I.

CR: Right.

BS: He told the Israelis that if they went on building settlements he would withdraw loan guarantees from Israel. So the Israelis said, “No more settlements,” the loan guarantees went through, and the Israelis continued to build settlements.

CR: So, as long as the settlements are increasing, and even though Secretary Rice has gone to Israel and said, "We object to this, we think it's the wrong thing to do," that admonishment has been ignored.

BS: Every Israeli, every American president has said the same thing. Every American president has taken a stand against the settlements in Israel.

CR: And that stand has been ignored, without fear of challenge!

BS: The Israelis are just so confident in the fact that the American president would not back it up with anything serious.

CR: So what happens? I mean, so Israel will be living in a state of what?

BS: There are, as we say in our piece, three possibilities: one possibility is the Israelis' giving Palestinians the vote. Then you have one state, with total democracy. It’ll never happen.

CR: Because of the demographics.

BS: Because of the demographics. And that’s the point, that within 20 years, or within less than 20 years, the Arabs will outnumber the Jews in the West Bank, Israel, and Gaza. And what happens then? That’s, that's the big question. That’s what the Israelis are facing. That's why the Israeli prime ministers have in the last decade advocated the two-state solution, because they know they know really, and they say, that this is their only hope, that without a two-state solution they're up against the wall, because they’re not going to give the Palestinians the vote. The other possibility is ethnic cleansing, take the Palestinians and get them out of the West Bank, into the, across the river into Jordan, which is not a realistic possibility. And the third possibility has a very ugly word attached to it, which is apartheid: a minority Jewish population ruling over a majority Palestinian population. And Palestinians will tell you that apartheid already exists, that with the Israelis settlements on the West Bank, which have divided the Palestinians territory into little cantons, with the settlements, and the roadblocks--settlers on the West Bank have their own lovely highways, which the Palestinians are not allowed to drive on. Palestinians have to drive on the old roads--that already there’s such a separation between Israelis and Palestinians on the West Bank that the Palestinians call it apartheid.

CR: You used to live in Tel Aviv, did you not?

BS: Yes.

CR: So, of all your friends in Israel, where you lived for how many years?

BS: Oh, altogether more than 10.

CR: So, if you were to say to them the building in the West Bank was a bad idea and not in your interest.

BS: They would say, “Of course!” and then change the topic of conversation.

CR: I don’t understand.

BS: In places like Tel Aviv, where just about everyone is for peace and against settlements, the irony is when you go to a dinner party in Tel Aviv, everything is discussed except politics—family, friends, movies, theater, music, everything! vacations, Tuscany, you name it,it’s discussed, but not the politics of the situation. There is...

CR: Because they’re just tired of it, or because they know there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

BS: Because they're tired of it, and they're in a state of denial, and they have a very good life. The life in Tel Aviv is a wonderful life, and they don’t want to be bothered with these questions which don’t really have an answer.

CR: So, give me a picture of Israel in, as you see it, in 2020...10 years.

BS: I’m afraid that it’s going to be increasingly, as we discussed, apartheid. That there will be more settlers, that the Palestinian population will grow enormously—they’ve got a much higher birth rate than the Israelis do--and that, um, there’ll be this complete separation between the West Bank and Israel.

CR: But are you saying that there is no Israeli... Let's assume that settlements is a bad idea for a moment...

BS: Right. That’s an assumption we can make.

CR: Exactly. And no Israeli politician is prepared to change course, because he or she would believe they could not survive that change of direction.

BS: I think you could conceivably have an Israeli politician which would be willing to take the risk, but I don’t think that politician could survive if he tried to evacuate settlements on the West Bank, unless he had the firm backing of an American president. But you can imagine...

CR: But why wouldn't an American president back it, that idea? If a politician in Israel came forward--let's say an Israeli Obamaa, for the lack of a better comparison--an Israeli Obama, new dramatic, charismatic figure came forward, and the Americans said, “Look, we support you, we support your leadership, and we’ll back you up, in terms of what you want to do about settlements and your initiative to reach some kind of peace agreement, that, in the long run, you are convinced and I am convinced," the U.S. would say, "is in the long run security of Israel."

BS: I think American politics would go haywire.

CR: Really? American politics! Even though you’re supporting an Israeli politician who's willing ...

BS: But the voices coming out of Israel would be so numerous and so loud, and so violent, that I don’t think any American president would be willing to do it for very long.

CR: Suppose you, if you went back to Israel now, among the Israelis that you know, and you know people across, certainly the government leaders, I’ve seen you do a number of reports with the military in Israel. Are they all...Do you think most of them in a moment in which they would be willing to engage the question would agree with you?

BS: Yes and just about everyone I know in Israel, or just about everyone that I hang out with would do anything to have a two-state solution. But they’re as cognizant as I am of the difficulties and, frankly, the impossibility... I asked Tzipi Livni the foreign minister...

CR: And prime-minister candidate.

BS: Prime-minister candidate. I asked her very recently about what her plans are, if she were prime minister, and she said she was very interested in a two-state solution, as just about every Israeli politician from the center, and of course the left, says.

CR: Benjamin Netinyahu is not in favor...Has he not announced

BS: Benjamin Netinyahu has never said he's in favor of a two-state solution, but he’s not in the center. He’s pretty much on the right.

CR: I know, I know he’s Lakud, but I just...

BS: He’s been very popular; I mean, he’s leading in the polls. One of the motivations for the offensive in Gaza, was Mr. Barak, who's defense minister, who was trailing in the polls. He's a prime minister candidate. And the standing is Nytenyahu first, Tzipi Livni second, and Barack third, and he was certainly...the offensive has a political dimension.

CR: And is it a significant dimension?

BS: I think so.

CR: So he could even win the...

BS: He hasn’t jumped that much in the polls..

CR: Because it’s February 10, isn’t it?

BS: Uh-huh, that's right.

CR: So, he doesn't have that much time to do it.

BS: He doesn't have that much time.

CR: But with that small a space and population, you could change opinion overnight.

BS: Sure, absolutely, and he has been rising in the polls. I think it would be unfair to Barack to suggest that this was the motivation for the operation, but it had to be in the mind of his supporters.

CR: Uh, what have the Israelis learned from Hizbollah, experience with Hizbollah, in Lebanon that is now informing what they do in Gaza?

BS: It's not dissimilar from what Colen Powell took away from Vietnam, which is that if you're going to have an operation, have an objective, a clear objective, go in with overwhelming force, and don’t stick around too long.

CR: And the other thing he said is make sure you have the support of the people

BS: Absolutely. And he does. I mean, there haven’t been, there haven't been any significant protests in Israel, which is very surprising, because there usually, in the course of a war--certainly in the course of the last Lebanon war, there were enormous protests in Israel. They haven’t been happening yet.

CR: Ok, but was it interviews that convinced you of this, for this piece, that's going to be on "60 Minutes," that there was, the possibilities of a two-state solution was slipping away, and history was bypassing it. [Were] there things that you saw on this trip that convinced you of that?

BS: Yes, and they weren't all that dissimilar to things we saw in previous trips. Helicopter ride over Israel and the West Bank, and when you look at the settlements and see how they divide the West Bank, how they make any contiguity impossible, you just wonder, you just shake your head and wonder how it was possible. And of course this was the motivation of the settlers. The settlers went in there knowing that their objective was to prevent a Palestinian state.

CR: They went in there because they believed it? Or they were thinking they were agents for the government?

BS: No, they went in there because they believed it.

CR: So, you’re a Palestinian on the West Bank, living on the West Bank, or you're a Palestinian in Gaza, how do, so how do you see all of this What are your options?

BS: Well, on the West Bank, people who live in Nebula, which is the second largest city in the West Bank, they can’t get out of Nebula with a car. They have to walk, and walk past humiliating checkpoints…

CR: Has that been smart on the part of the Israelis? Have they been smart to do that?

BS: No, they haven’t...those checkpoints...

CR: It has generated an enormous… Tony Blair who argues not…he would disagree with you very much…believes peace is possible, and he believes it has to come from the ground up. You know, everybody can say that—it’s a convenient expression—but he thinks that Israelis have to change, all those checkpoints, all those kinds of things have engendered so much…anger.

BS: I think that, um, that the checkpoints, and particularly the settlements have just made any settlement out of the question.

CR: The settlements have made no settlement possible.

BS: That’s right. And in Gaza, when you think about it, all the people in Gaza are--and Gaza's the size of, twice the size of Washington, D.C.--it's a very small area, that the people of Gaza--forget about the offensive, just generally--they can’t get out. There’s no way out of Gaza. The Israelis won’t take them. The Israeli checkpoint is closed. And the Egyptians won’t take them either. The Egyptian checkpoint is closed. So Gaza has become the largest prison in the world.

CR: But the world will set aside...the world will allow this?

BS: The world has allowed it. It’s been going on for some time. I can’t see the world getting very excited, particularly as long as Hamas is the ruling of Gaza, because no one wants a part of Hamas.

CR: Boy, this is a pessimistic report, sir.

BS: Sorry about that, Charlie

CR: But you really, really believe that history has passed it by.

BS: I do. There are other solutions possible, and I think that the Golan Heights is very doable, and...

CR: So Syria’s doable.

BS: Um-hum. There are no people on the Golan Heights…none to speak of.

CR: The idea of the West Bank going to Jordan, and all those arguments that are sometimes made, is that possible at all? Does that offer any?

BS: It’s conceivable. The Jordanians would never take all those Palestinians.

CR: Yeah, they're not crazy about that, I know. They’ve been there.

BS: The last thing King Abdullah wants is all those Palestinians in his country.

CR: King Husein found out, and kicked them out.

BS: Indeed. Exactly

CR: Um, do you know how Obama feels about all of this and whether...

BS: Don’t have the slightest notion. And the Israelis are as curious as we are, ’cause they don’t have the slightest notion either. They were encouraged by his pro-Israeli statements during the campaign, but they also knew that that's pro forma...

CR: That it was a campaign.

BS ..for an American politician, and there was quite a bit of support against Obama and for McCain in the election, and because the Israelis just felt that McCain would be very, very strongly in their pocket, but Obama was a question mark.

CR: Thank you for coming, I think. [laughter]

Time Running Out for A Two State Solution?
"60 Minutes," January 24, 2009

"Has peace in the Middle East become nothing more than a pipe dream? As Bob Simon reports, a growing number of Israelis and Palestinians feel that a two-state solution is no longer possible."

Unsurprisingly, the Charlie Rose interview and the subsequent CBS segment was met with harsh criticism from Israel's staunchest supporters in the U.S. Following is a letter from the "The Anti-Defamation League" (apparently from no one in particular), which is posted on its website. ADL, more pointedly the toad at its helm, Abraham H. Foxman, who accuses anyone who dares to criticize Israel anti-Semitic, is no doubt livid that Bob Simon, who happens to be Jewish, and his producers had the temerity to broadcast anything about Israel that wasn't at least 100% Israeli propaganda. Anything less than that (or more, depending on one's appetite for fact-based reporting), is a "journalistic hatchet job on Israel" according to the ADL. This letter is an indication of part of what journalists are subjected to whenever they don't completely toe the Israeli party line.

Robert Anderson
Executive Producer
60 Minutes

January 26, 2009

Dear Mr. Anderson:

The segment, "Time Running Out for A Two State Solution?" which aired on January 25 was nothing less than a journalistic hatchet job on Israel.

Bob Simon presented the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in stark black-and-white terms, without context or history and ignoring its complexities. The resulting impression is that the prominent voice in Israel is that of the hard-line settler and of an Israeli army that undertakes actions to purposely humiliate Palestinians.

It is especially shocking coming from Bob Simon, who lived and reported from Israel for many years and is well aware of the complex nature of the conflict.

What Simon should have found the time to include in the piece is that the Israeli government and the Israeli public are committed to seeking a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinian Authority; that in pursuing this goal, Israel cannot ignore the real threats to its security from terrorist groups and extremists in the West Bank and Gaza; that the barrier erected to prevent suicide attackers from entering Israeli cities and towns has saved lives.

What should have been stated is that Israel has taken real risks for peace – from its unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005, which included the uprooting of settlements, to removing itself from Palestinian populations centers in the West Bank, to its support the for the Palestinian Authority [sic].

60 Minutes undermined its credibility and provided a disservice to its viewers by not telling a more complete story.


The Anti-Defamation League

Monday, January 12, 2009

Gaza Protests I: Winter of Our Discontent

In New Orleans most people leave their Christmas trees up through Twelfth Night, the beginning of Carnival season, when the first king cakes are served. That day is known throughout Spanish America as Kings Day, when gifts are presented to children. The twelve days of Christmas are observed in New Orleanians, more than elsewhere in the United States, tend to observe the twelve days of Christmas.
However, Israel, along with the Bush administration, had decided six months before Christmas, at the time of its cease-fire agreement with Hamas, to begin an offensive against Gaza during Christmas. Israel's Chanuka gift to Israelis has sent shock waves throughout the world. It stole Christmas from hundreds of millions throughout Christendom, it has driven an even greater wedge between the Zionist state and the populace of Islam.
cartoon: Rubén, Presagio ("Omen")

"We Will Not Go Down"
by Michael Heart


What is Nolagazity? Nolagazity is the invisible city that began emerging out of the ethers on that afternoon of December 27, 2008, when Israel dropped the first bombs on Gaza in what became known as Israel's War on Gaza, but which I refuse to call anything but what it really is: Israel's War on Gazans, innocent men, women, and children. It was not actually the beginning of Israel's war against the people of Gaza, but rather another phase of its over 60-year war against Palestinians, this one bloodier than any before. As Gaza was destroyed by Israel, it became forever bound through its suffering to all the other destroyed cities and regions throughout history, including New Orleans.

But there are so many differences, you say. Yes, of course, and those differences are worth noting. But the similarities are what we have in mind, for those similarities are what make New Orleans and Gaza sister cities, sister regions. Together, New Orleans and Gaza form an invisible city, a city called Nolagazity from an ojos criollos perspective. It is up to New Orleanians to reach over sea and land, through the ethers and this cyberspace, to the survivors of Gaza. To make our new bonds visible. To raise our voices and to join them with those across the globe. Voices in all the languages of the world shouting out demands for a ceasefire, demands for justice and peace. Demands for life with dignity for Gazans and all Palestinians.

London Protests

On 28 December, over 700 Londoners converged at the Israel Embassy to protest the airstrikes on Gaza.

London Protest, 3 January 2009, 50,000 Strong March to Trafalgar Square

Manuel Hassassian

George Galloway

Ismael Patel

Tony Benn

Gaza Siter Maryan

Alexi Sayle

Claire Short

Jeremy Corbyn

Sarah Teather

Jeremy Rees

Annie Lennox