Levellers

Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

One Million Palestinians and Israelis Call for Peace Talks

August 2, 2007 – 8:00am IDT

 

Mid East: One Million Palestinians and Israelis Call for Immediate, uninterrupted Negotiations for Two-state Solution

 

Dennis Ross, Saeb Erakat, Muhammad Ali, Dov Lautman, Klaus Schwab

Among Global Leaders Supporting Grassroots OneVoice Movement

 

Landmark Public Summits in Jericho + Tel Aviv 10.18.07
Message to Abbas and Olmert: Moderate Majority Silent No Longer 

www.onemillionvoices.org

 

Jericho/Tel Aviv, August 1, 2007 – Frustrated with ongoing instability in the region, the recent crisis in Gaza and lack of progress, the OneVoice Movement today announced that nearly 500,000 Palestinian and Israeli citizens have united to demand immediate, ongoing, uninterrupted negotiations until a comprehensive two-state agreement is achieved. OneVoice has committed to recruit one million signatories to join the movement by October.

 

On October 18, 2007, Israeli and Palestinian citizens – together with international supporters – will mobilize to call for a two-state solution and an end to the occupation and terror. OneVoice, a non-partisan mainstream nationalist movement working in Israel and Palestine for an end to the conflict, will organize separate, simultaneous public summits in Tel Aviv, Jericho and Jerusalem, with international “Echo” events in London, Washington D.C. and Ottawa. The summits will be broadcast via satellite for the world to see the international solidarity towards ending the conflict. Hundreds of thousands are expected to participate and to add their signatures to the OneVoice mandate for a two-state solution. 

 

“The people need to start leading the way, to create the conditions necessary for their elected representatives to fulfill the will of the moderate majority,” said Daniel Lubetzky, Founder of the OneVoice Movement. “Excuses and disclaimers won’t get us anywhere. Each of us needs to ask, what can I do to help end the conflict? What am I willing to do to ensure negotiations do not stop until the Heads of State achieve an agreement that can be presented to the people?”

 

Bringing together international co-producers Michael Lang (Woodstock Productions) and Chris Wangro (Zaragunda Inc.) with the top Israeli and Palestinian production teams, programs for the One Million Voices to End the Conflict public summits will include live statements from foremost dignitaries and religious leaders, a variety of international and regional musical talent, messages from celebrities and luminaries, a magical performance by David Copperfield and raw commitments from OneVoice activists on the ground. The events will create an unprecedented shared reality, in which the Israeli, Palestinian and international communities are linked by their commitment to end the conflict. 

 

In 2004, as a result of ground-breaking citizen negotiations, OneVoice revealed that 76 percent of both Palestinians and Israelis support a two-state solution. By late 2005, over 150,000 Palestinian and Israeli citizen negotiators had achieved consensus on Ten Pillars for Conflict Resolution. However, to date moderates on both sides have kept silent, allowing a small minority of violent extremists to hijack the will of the people and capture global media attention.

 

“The most difficult thing in this region is to be a person of peace and moderation, especially at times when people are being killed,” said Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator. “Sanity, wisdom and courage tend to disappear when violence is prevalent. Peacemaking is not just about negotiating an agreement – it’s about having the people demand peace. OneVoice’s initiatives on October 18 are a major step towards making that happen.”

 

“OneVoice’s October 18th events are poised to inject the political situation in the Middle East, rife with complexities and contradictions, with a new hope by enabling the Israeli and Palestinian people to take part in the process,” said Ambassador Dennis Ross. “There have been failures of leadership on both sides, but what the OneVoice Movement is doing goes beyond blaming politicians, focusing in on the people of this region, empowering and mobilizing them to build a bold, absolute mandate for an end to the conflict.”

 

By organizing the moderate majority, OneVoice aims to empower its signatories to challenge the current dynamic of weakened leaders and divided populations. The public summits on October 18th will serve as a mandate for Palestinian President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, both of whom were elected on a platform for a two-state solution, to make a sustained push for peace. As momentum builds towards the event, OneVoice aims to expand its support base to one million, thus bringing together One Million Voices to End the Conflict.

 

International support is growing for the OneVoice Mandate and for October 18th One Million Voices To End the Conflict public summits. The list of global luminaries who have proclaimed their support for OneVoice continues to expand. Board members and supporters thus far include:

 

·         Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and President of the World Economic Forum

·         Muhammad Ali, philanthropist and former heavyweight boxing champion

·         Sheikh Taysir al Tamimi, Chief Palestinian Islamic Justice

·         Rabbi David Rosen, Chairman, International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations

·         Ambassador Dennis Ross, Mideast Envoy during Clinton and Bush Administrations

·         Saeb Erakat, Head of Negotiations, Palestinian Authority

·         Dov Lautman, foremost Israeli business leader and winner of Israel Prize

·         Stuart Eizenstat, former US Deputy Secretary of Treasury and Undersecretary of State

·         Samer Khoury, foremost Palestinian business leader; CEO, Consolidated Contracts International

 

OneVoice Palestine Executive Director Nisreen Shaheen said, “With the Arab Initiative on the table and the entire world’s attention on the Middle East, ordinary people have an extraordinary opportunity to make their voices heard.”

 

Dr. Fathi Darwish, OneVoice Palestine Director General, added, “We need to create a sense of urgency among all parties involved – Israelis, Palestinians, and people everywhere – to once and for all end the occupation and the violence and suffering on all sides and enable Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace.”

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About the OneVoice Movement:

 

The OneVoice Movement is a mainstream nationalist grassroots movement with nearly 500,000 Israeli and Palestinian signatories, and 3,000 highly-trained youth leaders.  It aims to amplify the voice of the overwhelming but heretofore silent majority of moderates who wish for peace and prosperity, empowering them to demand accountability from elected representatives and work toward a two-state solution.  OneVoice counts on its Board over 60 foremost dignitaries and business leaders across a wide spectrum of politics and beliefs, joining as OneVoice against violent extremism and for conflict resolution. Learn more by visiting www.onevoicemovement.org.

For more information and to tell us what you think, please visit our blog:
http://blog.onevoicemovement.org

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August 22, 2007 Posted by | Israel-Palestine, peacemaking | Comments Off on One Million Palestinians and Israelis Call for Peace Talks

Conservative Myth: GOP Politicians Serve in Military More Than Dems

 Myths or “Urban Legends” abound.  I am not speaking of “myth” as an identity shaping story that might or might not have historical basis, as biblical scholars use the term. I am using the popular definition of “myth” as a fictitious story with no clear author.  In the spirit of the cable TV show “mythbusters,” I am starting a series of posts (irregularly posted) on “conservative myths.” Liberals and progressives have their own myths, but I think that conservative ones are far more pervasive in contemporary U.S.A. popular culture.  I want to expose them. 

Myth #1 Republicans are more patriotic than Democrats and one excellent measure of this is the fact that so many more Republican politicians than Democratic ones have had military service.

As a pacifist, I am not convinced that military service is the only or even best demonstration of patriotism. (Patriotism is variously defined and some definitions should make Christians wary.  Christians have primary loyalty to the global Body of Christ, not to any nation-state.  But whereas nationalism is forbidden to Christians, I don’t think that chastened, critical, and humble forms of patriotism are forbidden us.) But, for the sake of argument, let’s say that military service IS the most obvious litmus test of a politician’s patriotism.  Are Republican politicians really more likely than Democratic ones to have seen military service?

The short answer is “no.” In the 109th Congresss, when the GOP was in charge, there were 233 GOP members of the House of Representatives and 206 Democratic members.  There were only 110 House members altogether who had any form of military service.  This is low number is a reflection of the class bias in Congress.  Getting elected takes much money and usually the kind of education and connections that come from the upper class and upper middle class. Since the end of the draft (compulsory military service), much fewer middle and upper class people in this nation see military service. So, the younger members of Congress are less likely to have seen military service, regardless of Party. 

But of that low number (110), 59 were Democrats and 51 Republicans.  Source: Congressional Database.  

In that same 109th Congress (with GOP in charge), there were 55 GOP Senators and 44 Democratic Senators and 1 Indep.  Only 31 of those Senators had military service, 17 of which were Democratic and 13 were Republican. Source: Congressional Database.

Things have shifted slightly in the GOP favor since the Democratic Party has gained ascendancy in the current 110th Congress, but things are still fairly even.  There are 20 senators with military service, 10 Democratic and 10 GOP.  Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) is the only member of either the House or Senate to have a family member (his son) serving in Iraq.  There are only 70 House members with military service, of which 37 are Republican (including one who has died in office this year) and 33 are Democratic (including the only member of Congress who is a veteran of the Iraq invasion and occupation).

The decline of military service in Congress is clearly continuing, but neither major Party has any kind of clear pattern of enthusiastic joining of the military or clear avoidance.

What is fascinating is the “Chickenhawk factor,” that is how many high-ranking Republican leaders who were cheerleaders for the Iraq war, but who avoided military service themselves in time of war.  The term “chickenhawk,” is rude and may not even be fair in all cases.  But there does seem to be a pattern in which some of the most enthusiastically pro-war refused to go themselves.  They weren’t opposed to the Vietnam War, some of them were cheerleaders for that war, too, but they wanted others to fight it. 

Consider the following list of pro-war Republicans:

Vice President Richard B. Cheney had several deferments, none for medical reasons such as his later poor health.  He infamously said that he “had other priorities.”

Former Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft did not serve–received 7 deferments to teach business ed. at Southwest Missouri State University.

Former Florida Gov.  Jeb Bush did not serve, receiving a deferment during Vietnam.

“Bush’s Brain” Karl Rove, did not serve, receiving several deferments so that he could plan future wars and GOP “permanent majority.”

Former Sen. Phil Gramm, did not serve, received several deferments.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich did not serve, avoided the draft with several deferments.

Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, a major hawk, avoided combat during World War II by making training films for the army while remaining in California.  Later, he seemed several times to have confused his movie role as a tailgunner with the real thing.

President George W. Bush used his father’s influence to get into the Air National Guard in order to avoid going to Vietnam, though he loudly proposed using nuclear weapons on the North Vietnamese.  He was Absent Without Leave (AWOL) several times and eventually failed to finish his 6 year term in the Air National Guard, serving only 4 years.  His father’s influence kept him from being prosecuted for this.  For some reason, “W” still insists that he “has seen war.” Maybe on TV, but that’s all.

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Not all big-league Republicans have been chickenhawks, of course.  Former Sen. Bob Dole, one time Pres. candidate, for instance, served honorably in WWII. Dole was permanently injured and earned several medals.  Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NB), earned two purple hearts and a bronze star in Vietnam.  Sen. John McCain (R-UT), was, of course captured in Vietnam and spent several years as a prisoner of war. In the 2000 presidential race, the Bush campaign smeared McCain’s reputation (was this practice for the later hatchet jobs to be done on Democrats Max Cleland, John Kerry, and others?) by claiming that he did dishonorable things in Vietnam, but he was defended by several prominent Democrats.

But its interesting that these honorable, sometimes even heroic, Republican veterans are much less hawkish than their civilian chickenhawk counterparts.

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By contrast, many prominent Democrats who have been smeared as unpatriotic by the GOP have served honorably, sometimes even heroically, in the military. 

Former VP Al Gore enlisted in the military when he could have avoided it and volunteered for a tour of Vietnam to prevent some poor kid from going in his place.  He did this even though his father was one of the most prominent anti-Vietnam war senators at the time. 

Former Sen. Minority Leader Tom Daschle was a Lt. in the U.S. Air Force from 1969-1972.

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) a very high ranking Democrat, served in the U.S. Army when his family was interred in U.S. concentration camps for citizens of Japanese ancestry.  He lost an arm and earned the Medal of Honor.

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), presidential candidate in ’04 (although not my first choice), was a Lt. in the U.S. Navy from 1966 to 1970, going to Vietnam and earning 3 Purple Hearts, a bronze star with combat V and a silver star for valor.  Then, and in my view, this was just as courageous and patriotic if not more so, he testified before Congress in the Winter Soldier hearings, helping to end the Vietnam War and helping to create Vietnam Veterans Against the War. (It’s too bad that he was so hawkish in his ’04 campaign.)  Chickenhawks smeared his record in the ’04 campaign.

Former Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA), lost both legs and one arm serving in Vietnam.  He lost reelection when Republican Chickenhawks, led by former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, smeared his record and tried to claim that he was unpatriotic. !!!

Former Presidential Candidate (and still a political activist) General Wesley Clark:  Had a 38 year career of public service in the Army culminating in being the Supreme Commander of NATO. (He was a prominent critic of the Iraq invasion and occupation.)

Former Democratic President John F. Kennedy was highly decorated during WWII.  As was former Sen. and presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy.  Whatever else one could say about Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), served in the Army in 1951-1953 and was in the Korean War.

Former Pres. Jimmy Carter, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, was commissioned an Ensign in 1947 just as WWII ended.  He  spent 7 years in the Navy helping to create the nuclear submarine fleet and becoming a nuclear engineer. 

Former VP Walter Mondale, served in the U.S. Army from 1951-1953, including a tour in the Korean war.

Former Sen. and Presidential candidate, George McGovern, a famous liberal politician, was in the Army Air Force in WWII and earned the Silver Star for valor.

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The list could be expanded on both sides.  Other forms of national service, such as the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, or alternative service as a conscientious objector, etc. should all be counted as patriotic service, in my view.  But even for those who claim military service as THE form of patriotic service, this should disprove the conservative myth that Republicans are more patriotic and respect the military more than Democrats.  There is simply no basis for this view.

August 22, 2007 Posted by | human rights., myths, nonviolence, politics | 8 Comments