Commentary

Presbyterians Divest from the Israeli Occupation: the End of the Beginning?

When there is a just resolution to the Israel/Palestine conflict, I will claim that June 20, 2014 marked a turning point.

That was the day that the Presbyterian Church, USA voted to divest from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions as a result of these companies' continued involvement in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and these companies' continued refusal to change their policies.

Anti-Apartheid Archbishop Calls Presbyterians to Back Divestment from Israeli Occupation

 Detroit -- As Presbyterians meeting in Detroit consider divestment from three companies linked to the Israeli occupation of Palestine -- Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett Packard -- Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the leader who more than any other human being alive is associated with the successful use of divestment to help overturn apartheid in South Africa, is calling on Presb

Presbyterians Poised for Historic Vote Against Israel's Occupation of Palestine

Sometimes a situation that appears hopeless is actually poised for a new beginning - when the apparent hopelessness reflects acceptance that conventional wisdom has utterly failed to bring about solutions and that solutions require actions that conventional wisdom has blocked.

Next week, Presbyterians meeting in Detroit will have a historic opportunity to help change the fundamental dynamics of the Israel-Palestine conflict in a way that will bring a just resolution of the conflict closer. They'll be considering divestment from three companies - Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlett Packard - that are significantly tied to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Amb. Ford: Give Syrian Insurgents Manpads to Shoot Down Iranian Planes

 Last September, Congress said no to plans to bomb Syria, by failing to approve an authorization for the use of military force.

Now there is a new push -- exemplified by this New York Times op-ed by former Ambassador Robert Ford -- for deeper U.S. military intervention in Syria. Advocates for U.S. military intervention are assuring us that there will be no direct U.S. bombing of Syria. Instead, so-called "moderate rebels" in Syria (whoever they are) will do the bombing on behalf of the U.S., with U.S.-supplied weapons.

Warmonger Media Storm Against Saving Sgt. Bergdahl Shows Why We Have So Much War

 If you want to understand why it's the case that on the one hand the U.S. public and the majority of Congress turned against the war in Afghanistan a long time ago, and yet on the other hand, it's been so hard to end the war, this week's warmonger media storm against the diplomatic rescue of U.S. prisoner of war Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been very instructive.

It's been known for years that a key step towards ending the war would be exchanging five Taliban prisoners of war at Guantanamo for the release of Sgt. Bergdahl.

There has never been any serious dispute of the case that this would be a key step towards ending the war. I challenge anyone to find a counter-example to my claim.

U.S. Anti-Tank Rockets in Syria: Did Congress Approve?

 Reuters reports (emphasis mine):

Online videos show Syrian rebels using what appear to be U.S. anti-tank rockets, weapons experts say, the first significant American-built armaments in the country's civil war. ...

QR codes for Illinois, New York, Maryland petitions against anti-boycott free speech legislation

Note: this memo is primarily aimed at tech-savvy kids, not at old fogie technophobe Luddites. If you are a technophobe, move along, nothing to see here.

Background: the world has changed, right? We do online petitions now. It's more efficient on both sides of the interaction - easier to pass, easier to sign; you don't have to mess around with re-copying or trying to read people's illegible handwriting (speaking as a top offender of illegible handwriting); if you sign on your own device, you probably have your own information already saved in your browser, which makes signing go tschik-tschok, as they say in Hebrew.

OK, but we still want to pass petitions at events. Does that mean we have to go back to pen and paper?

You know how when you ride the Amtrak, and sometimes on planes, they use QR codes, so you don't need a paper ticket. You just hold up your smart phone showing your electronic ticket with the QR code on it and the conductor/airline employee uses a QR reader to capture the information from your electronic ticket's QR code.

We can use this technology for online petitions too. You generate a QR code for the website that has the petition on it, you point a smart phone (or laptop's) camera at it, and after the image is captured, the smartphone jumps to the URL of the petition site, where you can sign the petition on your smartphone.

The smartphone or laptop has to have a QR reader installed. But you can easily download QR readers for free. Just go to the app store on your device, search for "QR reader", and choose one of many free options. On my iPhone, I have installed the free QRReader app.

So, with that background concluded, here is the ask. I'm going to try to get signers on the Illinois anti-anti-boycott petition at Rabbi Brant Rosen's talk tonight at UIUC, using a QR code that Just Foreign Policy has generated for the petition's website.

Two ways you can help me test:

Keep Your Promise: A Left-Right Coalition to Help Veterans and Cut the Debt

 There is wide political agreement that we need to do more to support our veterans and their families. A recent spectacular demonstration was the 326-90 vote in the House and 95-3 vote in the Senate to repeal the military pension cuts to veterans and active service members that were in the Ryan-Murray budget deal. A key question in the current federal budget environment is how we are going to pay for increased veterans' benefits, given broad Republican resistance to raising revenue or increasing the deficit.

An obvious answer is this: Cut unnecessary Pentagon spending and split the savings between helping veterans and reducing government debt. This should appeal to Democrats and Republicans who want to help veterans and to Democrats and Republicans who are willing to cut unnecessary Pentagon spending to reduce government debt. It should also appeal to organizations representing veterans.

Some people are under the impression that cutting unnecessary Pentagon spending is a non-starter with all Republicans, or almost all of them. But in the recent past, there has been a substantial group of Republicans in the House who were willing to vote to cut the Pentagon budget.

letter to Sonya Michel on her ASA BDS vote misrepresentation claim in the NYT

Sonya Michel

Professor of history, women’s studies and American studies
University of Maryland
College Park, Md.
 
 

Dear Ms. Michel,

Extend Unemployment Assistance by Cutting the War Budget

 Just over a week ago, the Senate fell one vote short of overcoming a Republican filibuster to pass a three-month extension of assistance for the long-term unemployed.

The New York Times reported: