President Obama insists Israel has a “right” to nuclear weapons. This brother definitely does not speak for me.
like most elections in the U.S. – is not a pathway to
much. At best it is an opportunity for a defensive action such as to
prevent bad Supreme Court nominations or to prevent the presentation
of somewhat worst government budget offerings as a starting point for
Congress’ deliberations and for welfare to corporate pigs. Whoever
wins, progressive activists must know that it takes concerted action
from the bottom to make sustainable change happen! Remembering
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's example is useful here. After
his election in 1932, FDR met with labor leaders, many of them active
socialists with whom he had worked over the previous decade or more.
These leaders arrived with plans they wanted the new President to
implement. Roosevelt told them: "I agree with you, I want to do
it, now make me do it."
lesson of Roosevelt’s example could not be truer than of the change
that is needed in regards to U.S. policy in the Middle East and the
avoidance of war with Iran. Regardless of political Party, no U.S.
President will change course unless made to do so from the
grassroots. Like South African Apartheid, the issue of Middle East
peace is “touching” enough folks whereby a spurt in bottom up
organizing could produce the necessary shift in direction. You name
it – gas prices, nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, religious
fundamentalism, “Defense” spending, racism and antisemitism and
anti-Islamism, colonialism and “exceptionalism,” wars and the
potential of wars – all these issues and more are all entangled in
the dynamics around the Middle East. And there is already a rising
tide of organizing happening. Combine this with an up and coming
December event and we progressives are presented with a unique
opportunity for worldwide joint organizing that is historic!
thirty years, the United Nations has called for a Nuclear Weapons
Free Zone in the Middle East. The 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty Review Conference unanimously called for an international
conference to begin discussing a zone free of nuclear weapons and
other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. The proposed
Conference is scheduled for mid- December, 2012, in Helsinki,
“Americans” and indigenous peoples around the world have a major
responsibility and the moral standing as sufferers, prophetic
leaders, and speakers for fairness and justice to speak out and be
heard on all of the relevant questions.
We are the voices that you will hear little of in most elections –
even Barack Obama (by his own admission) does not speak with an
African American voice. President
Obama, despite his continuation of the $3
billion of annual subsidy and his addition of $200 million for Iron
Dome – of
dubious military value – to Israel, is not
liked by Israeli’s leadership because he dared to take a more
nuanced position in regards to the Middle East. Israeli
Prime Minister Netanyahu has made clear, despite his recent efforts
to camouflage it, that he prefers Romney. Paul Craig Roberts
said, “The closest the campaign has come to this political issue is
which candidate can grovel the lowest at the feet of Israeli Prime
Minister Netanyahu. Romney won that contest. But for the rest, well,
it is like two elementary school children sticking their tongues out
at one another.”
Regardless of political Party, no U.S. President will change course unless made to do so from the grassroots.
on the questions of the Middle East, blacks have the courageous
voices of Alice Walker, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and Angela
Davis. And let’s not forget our beautiful black sister, Cynthia
McKinney. She was elected in 1992 as the first
African-American woman to represent Georgia in the House. She lost
her Congressional re-election effort in 2002, I believe,
due to her controversial profile, which included support for Arab
causes. McKinney was reelected in 2004 where she supported
anti-Iraqi-war legislation and introduced articles of impeachment
against President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice. McKinney lost re-election, again, in 2006.
Cynthia stated that “The Anti-Defamation League wanted me out of
Congress and filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case to
dismantle the District that sent me to Washington, D.C.”
speaking for himself, Obama (in 2010) supported the idea of
theDecember IAEA Conference on a nuclear-free Middle East,
The idea of a nuclear-free Middle East had been kicking around for
years, but gained a major boost when the US endorsed the idea. Having
endorsed the plan, it took less than 24 hours for the US State
Department to express “deep regrets” over the signing,
saying it was unfair. President Obama followed up by calling the
signing a mistake and insisted Israel has a “right” to
nuclear weapons. This brother definitely does not speak for
consistently shown strong support among
a nuclear-free zone in the region, but the hawkish government in
power in Israel has blasted every proposal to even discuss the
subject, saying it “unfairly singles out” Israel by virtue of the
fact that Israel is the only nation with a nuclear weapons program in
the first place, as well as the only non-signatory to the Nuclear
Non-proliferation Treaty in the region. So, the Israeli government
leadership – with its many illogical pronouncements – does
not speak for the Israeli people, either.
professor of government at the University of Maryland) andSteven
of the Program on International Policy Attitudes) published a report
in January of 2012 that laid out the Israeli government’s
fallacious argument. “The debate over how to handle Iran’s
nuclear program is notable for its gloom and doom. Many people assume
that Israel must choose between letting Iran develop nuclear weapons
or attacking before it gets the bomb. But this is a false choice.
There is a third option: working toward a nuclear weapons-free zone
in the Middle East. And it is more feasible than most assume…Most
important, when asked whether it would be better for both Israel and
Iran to have the bomb, or for neither to have it, 65 percent of
Israeli Jews said neither. And a remarkable 64 percent favored the
idea of a nuclear-free zone, even when it was explained that this
would mean Israel giving up its nuclear weapons.”
response to Netanyahu’s “red line” performance at the UN, the
national organization United
for Peace and Justice concluded that the threat of war now has
been extended into spring 2013. Madness has stopped for the moment.
“Instead of war, the United Nations is offering a logical solution
to the crisis: establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear
weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.” The importance
of the attendance and diplomatic participation of the United States
and Israel in this Conference is crucial and cannot be overstated. It
could prove to be a venue for a regional security dialogue. The
United States’ lack of visibility in promoting this conference is
unacceptable. What alternative is there towards securing a
peaceful Middle East if not through the doors of diplomacy? The
roles that Israel and the U.S. play are pivotal in establishing
security policies of all Middle Eastern countries. This Helsinki
Conference provides an opportunity for a Middle East without nuclear
weapons. It can lead to further discussions for securing a lasting
peace in the Middle East.
Progressive activists must know that it takes concerted action from the bottom to make sustainable change happen!Progressive
forces are stirring all over the planet. There are now billboards
which state “$8 million a
Israel just doesn’t make sense!” that can be viewed from US-50
westbound, just before it meets with I-80, southwest of Sacramento.
The billboards were put up by the Free Palestine Movement (to support
to donate on line). On Wednesday, October 24, 2012, Richard Falk, the
U.N. special investigator on human rights in the Palestinian
territories, called for a boycott of all companies that have dealings
with Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem until
they adhere to international rights standards and practices. In the
report presented to the U.N. General Assembly, Falk said a number of
Israeli-owned and multinational corporations headquartered in the
U.S. [Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett Packard, and Motorola], Europe
[Volvo] and Mexico appear to be violating international human rights
and humanitarian laws by exploiting Palestinian resources and helping
Israel construct illegal settlements and provide security for them.
The U.S. and Israel protested the report but the new Egyptian
government supported it.
of people are on the move and the time is ripe. Pressuring the U.S.
and Israel (by way of the U.S.) to participate in the talks on a
Nuclear Free Middle East in the IAEA Conference in December in
Helsinki provides the path. Using the lessons learned around the
world through the boycott and divestment from South Africa to end
Apartheid and other creative acts is the means. Following the moral
leadership of such luminaries as Alice Walker, Bishop Desmond Tutu,
Angela Davis, and Cynthia McKinney is the inspiration. Regardless of
who is elected President, this must be done.
would be a perfect time for President Obama to GIVE BACK his
undeserved Nobel Peace Prize – like Le Doc Tho did
because of continued unrest in Vietnam – unless he is able to bring
these talks about and carry them to completion.
ya Jamii is the Swahili phrase that translates in English to “The
Columnist, Wilson Riles, is a
CA City Council Member. Click
to contact Mr. Riles.