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04 June 2009

Hamas Delivers Peace Letter to President Obama

Hello, all:

From the delegation in Gaza at the moment; actually, direct from Medea Benjamin's e-mail. At minimum, the bluff, if bluff it is, should be called. It's not bluff; I happen to know second-hand, and the first hand is an old hand and personal friend.

It would be great if you forwarded this widely, including to your local media, Senators, and congressmen.

Best, Doug

Hamas Delivers Peace Letter to President Obama

The Hamas government in Gaza reached out to President Obama on the occasion of his visit to the Middle East, announcing that Hamas was willing to talk to all parties “on the basis of mutual respect and without preconditions.” CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin, who carried the letter out from Gaza, said that the letter represented a significant development and an effort by Hamas to present a new face to the Western world. “While Osama bin Laden used the occasion of President Obama’s visit to deliver a scathing attack, Hamas reached out to a feminist U.S. peace group to deliver a letter to Obama urging dialogue, mutual respect and adherence to international law,” said Medea Benjamin.

In the letter, Hamas urged Obama to visit “our ground Zero” in Gaza and bring about a “paradigm shift” in the Israel-Palestine conflict based on enlightened world opinion and international law.

“This is a people who have just been subjected to a vicious attack that left over 1,300 dead and thousands wounded, and there is not a word here about armed resistance or Zionism. They are reaching out and actively seeking a resolution to the conflict based on the findings of the world’s leading international legal bodies and human rights organizations from the United Nations and the International Court of Justice to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. This is a major breakthrough and the U.S. government should take advantage to begin a dialogue with Hamas.”

The letter was signed by Ahmed Yusef, Deputy Foreign Minister and hand-delivered to Benjamin, who was in Gaza headed a 66-person delegation representing 10 nations. Benjamin and representatives of CODEPINK are delivering the letter to the U.S. Embassy in Cairo today, June 4, during Obama’s visit to Egypt.

The text of the letter is below.

His Excellency President Barack Obama,
President of the United States of America.
June 3rd 2009
Dear Mr. President,

We welcome your visit to the Arab world and your administration’s initiative to bridge differences with the Arab-Muslim world.

One long-standing source of tension between the United States and this part of the world has been the failure to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.

It is therefore unfortunate that you will not visit Gaza during your trip to the Middle East and that neither your Secretary of State nor George Mitchell have come to hear our point of view.

We have received numerous visits recently from people of widely varied backgrounds: U.S. Congressional representatives, European parliamentarians, the U.N.-appointed Goldstone commission, and grassroots delegations such as those organized by the U.S. peace group CODEPINK.

It is essential for you to visit Gaza. We have recently passed through a brutal 22-day Israeli attack. Amnesty International observed that the death and destruction Gaza suffered during the invasion could not have happened without U.S.-supplied weapons and U.S.-taxpayers’ money.

Human Rights Watch has documented that the white phosphorus Israel dropped on a school, hospital, United Nations warehouse and civilian neighborhoods in Gaza was manufactured in the United States. Human Rights Watch concluded that Israel’s use of this white phosphorus was a war crime.

Shouldn’t you see first-hand how Israel used your arms and spent your money?

Before becoming president you were a distinguished professor of law. The U.S. government has also said that it wants to foster the rule of law in the Arab-Muslim world.

The International Court of Justice stated in July 2004 that the whole of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem are occupied Palestinian territories designated for Palestinian self-determination, and that the Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal.

Not one of the 15 judges sitting on the highest judicial body in the world dissented from these principles.

The main human rights organizations in the world, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have issued position papers supporting the right of the Palestinian refugees to return and compensation.

Each year in the United Nations General Assembly nearly every country in the world has supported these principles for resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict. Every year the Arab League puts forth a peace proposal based on these principles for resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Leading human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch have also stated that Israel’s siege of Gaza is a form of collective punishment and therefore illegal under international law.

We in the Hamas Government are committed to pursuing a just resolution to the conflict not in contradiction with the international community and enlightened opinion as expressed in the International Court of Justice, the United Nations General Assembly, and leading human rights organizations. We are prepared to engage all parties on the basis of mutual respect and without preconditions.

However, our constituency needs to see a comprehensive paradigm shift that not only commences with lifting the siege on Gaza and halts all settlement building and expansion but develops into a policy of evenhandedness based on the very international law and norms we are prodded into adhering to.

Again, we welcome you to Gaza which would allow you to see firsthand our ground zero. Furthermore, it would enhance the US position; enabling you to speak with new credibility and authority in dealing with all the parties.

Very Truly Yours,
Dr. Ahmed Yousef
Deputy of the Foreign Affairs Ministry
Former Senior Political Advisor
to Prime Minister Ismael Hanniya

03 June 2009

Economic recovery is wishful thinking, Dean Baker

Clearly, the elite media wants to get The Great Unwashed to start spending compulsively so that their own portfolios will rise to pre-crash levels. I heard the NPR broadcast that Baker rightly pillories -- I mean, how fucking stupid do they think we are? A rhetorical question.

Key quote:

The problem is not consumer attitudes, as many commentators seem to believe. Rather, the reason that most homeowners aren't buying a lot right now is the same reason that homeless people don't buy a lot of things: they don't have the money.

Some Limericks

Thanks to Madeleine Begun Kane, a Facebook friend, for the prompts -- she provides first lines for all to limericize upon. Feel free to join in the fun!

An obstreperous fellow named Joe,
After bidin' his time (just for show),
Hitched up with Obama
To partake in the drama
Of dealing the law its last blow.

A hard-working woman named May,
Who read Maureen Dowd every day:
"Eighty cents on the dollar?
About *that* I will holler --
Not 'identity,' but equal pay!"

There once was a fellow named Wayne
Who swaggered across fruited plain.
This Marion-ette,
The rightwingers' pet
Made blood a removable stain.

A dim-witted driver named Ed
Took Geithner each day to the Fed
Where Tim and Bernanke's
Routine hanky-pankies
Drove Ed to the poorhouse instead.

I'm officially addicted; making up some on my own, prompt-free:

A thinker named Finkelstein, Norman,
As tough as a weathered longshoreman,
Was head of the cause --
He worked without pause --
But always denied he was foreman.

An unfortunate specimen (rare),
By heredity punningly square,
Became glossolalic
From Joyce's post-Gaelic
And his chance of recovery? Bare.

Goethe Rearranges Reagan's Taxotomy

The spirit of JOHANN VON GOETHE;
A villa just north of Caserta:
"The cynic aristo,
Of nickname Mephisto,
Could never have bested the ERTA."

02 June 2009

A Report from Palestine

A chilling and well-written look at the so-called "facts on the ground." More posts from Robin to come -- bookmark his blog.

Ralph Nader and Labor Professor Harley Shaiken Discuss the Bankruptcy and Future of General Motors

More here, in reverse chronological order:

Blundering Into Bankruptcy

Letter to Chairmen Dodd and Frank Regarding the GM Bankruptcy

01 June 2009

Two Lectures by and One Interview of Richard Lewontin

A repost, but apparently, at least two of these disappeared from Google Video only to resurface on YouTube. All are well worth the time -- 1. Gene, Organism, and Environment; 2. The Concept of Race; 3. Interview on Conversations with History by Harry Kreisler.

Thoroughly Modern Marx, Leo Panitch

Click the title above for the article; here's part one of a discussion with Panitch on The Real News, others to be put up as released:

George Carlin, Back In Town, 1996

One of his all-time best shows:

31 May 2009

Noam Chomsky On Democracy and "The Common Good"