Monday, July 31, 2006

Brian Tokar on Murray Bookchin

Murray Bookchin, the visionary social theorist and activist, died this Sunday, July 30.

By Brian Tokar

Murray Bookchin, the visionary social theorist and activist, died during the early morning of Sunday, July 30th in his home in Burlington, Vermont. During a prolific career of writing, teaching and political activism that spanned half a century, Bookchin forged a new anti-authoritarian outlook rooted in ecology, dialectical philosophy and left libertarianism.

During the 1950s and ‘60s, Bookchin built upon the legacies of utopian social philosophy and critical theory, challenging the primacy of Marxism on the left and linking contemporary ecological and urban crises to problems of capital and social hierarchy in general. Beginning in the mid-sixties, he pioneered a new political and philosophical synthesis—termed social ecology—that sought to reclaim local political power, by means of direct popular democracy, against the consolidation and increasing centralization of the nation state.

From the 1960s to the present, the utopian dimension of Bookchin’s social ecology inspired several generations of social and ecological activists, from the pioneering urban ecology movements of the sixties, to the 1970s’ back-to-the-land, antinuclear, and sustainable technology movements, the beginnings of Green politics and organic agriculture in the early 1980s, and the anti-authoritarian global justice movement that came of age in 1999 in the streets of Seattle. His influence was often cited by prominent political and social activists throughout the US, Europe, South America, Turkey, Japan, and beyond.

Even as numerous social movements drew on his ideas, however, Bookchin remained a relentless critic of the currents in those movements that he found deeply disturbing, including the New Left’s drift toward Marxism-Leninism in the late 1960s, tendencies toward mysticism and misanthropy in the radical environmental movement, and the growing focus on individualism and personal lifestyles among 1990s anarchists. In the late 1990s, Bookchin broke with anarchism, the political tradition he had been most identified with for over 30 years and articulated a new political vision that he called communalism.

Bookchin was raised in a leftist family in the Bronx during the 1920s and ‘30s. He enjoyed retelling the story of his expulsion from the Young Communist League at age 18 for openly criticizing Stalin, his brief flirtation with Trotskyism as a labor organizer in the foundries of New Jersey, and his introduction to anarchism by veterans of the immigrant labor movement during the 1950s. In 1974, he co-founded the Institute for Social Ecology, along with Dan Chodorkoff, then a graduate student at Vermont’s Goddard College. For 30 years, the Institute for Social Ecology has brought thousands of students to Vermont for intensive educational programs focusing on the theory and praxis of social ecology. A self-educated scholar and public intellectual, Bookchin served as a full professor at Ramapo College of New Jersey despite his own lack of conventional academic credentials.He published more than 20 books and many hundreds of articles during his lifetime, many of which were translated into Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Turkish and other languages.

During the 1960s - ‘80s, Bookchin emphasized his fundamental theoretical break with Marxism, arguing that Marx’s central focus on economics and class obscured the more profound role of social hierarchy in the shaping of human history. His anthropological studies affirmed the role of domination by age, gender and other manifestations of social power as the antecedents of modern-day economic exploitation. In The Ecology of Freedom(1982), he examined the parallel legacies of domination and freedom in human societies, from prehistoric times to the present, and he later published a four-volume work,The Third Revolution, exploring anti-authoritarian currents throughout the Western revolutionary tradition.

At the same time, he criticized the lack of philosophical rigor that has often plagued the anarchist tradition, and drew theoretical sustenance from dialectical philosophy—particularly the works of Aristotle and Hegel; the Frankfurt School—of which he became increasingly critical in later years—and even the works of Marx and Lenin. During the past year, even while terminally ill in Burlington, Bookchin was working toward a re-evaluation of what he perceived as the historic failure of the 20th century left. He argued that Marxist crisis theory failed to recognize the inherent flexibility and malleability of capitalism, and that Marx never saw capitalism in its true contemporary sense. Until his death, Bookchin asserted that only the ecological problems created by modern capitalism were of sufficient magnitude to portend the system’s demise.

Murray Bookchin was diagnosed several months ago with a fatal heart condition. He will be remembered by his devoted family members—including his long-time companion Janet Biehl, his former wife Bea Bookchin, his son, daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter—as well as his friends, colleagues and frequent correspondents throughout the world. There will be a public memorial service in Burlington, Vermont on Sunday, August 13th. For more information, contact

Murray Bookchin RIP

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Murray Bookchin, an early proponent of what he described as social ecology, died at home early Sunday at the age of 85.

He was surrounded by family when he died of heart failure at home, said his daughter, Debbie Bookchin.

Murray Bookchin long was a proponent of left-leaning libertarian ideas and was among the first people in the early 1960s to promote the then-emerging field of ecology into political debate.

He published "Our Synthetic Environment" under the pseudonym Lewis Herber in 1962 in which he called for alternative energy supplies among other environmental proposals. It was in that book, which predated by five months the better known work Rachel Carson "Silent Spring," that Bookchin introduced the notion of social ecology.

He argued that only a completely free and open society can resolve the problems that confronted the environment at that time.

Bookchin's views, often well ahead of their time, never got wide play because they were so closely linked to his leftist political thought.

Bookchin was born in New York City in 1921 of Russian immigrant parents. He joined a communist youth organization at age 9, although he dropped out a number of years later, disillusioned at what he believed was the authoritarian nature of the movement.

He was a foundry worker and union organizer in New Jersey before joining the U.S. Army. In civilian life, he became an autoworker, but left the industry and its labor organization after the General Motors strike of 1946.

He eventually turned to his interest in the environment and writing, eventually publishing more than two dozen books ecology, history, politics, philosophy, and urban planning.

He taught at Ramapo College of New Jersey from 1977 through 1981.

In Burlington, Bookchin was instrumental in helping to organize the Green Party. He also co-founded the Institute for Social Ecology in Plainfield in 1971.

Bookchin is survived by his longtime companion, Janet Biehl; son Joseph Bookchin of Burlington; daughter Debbie of Burlington; and ex-wife and longtime friend Beatrice Bookchin.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

ALF action in England

Gosport, England - Animal Liberation Front activists rescued nine goats from the Centre for Human Sciences. The center which is operated by QinetiQ, a contractor with the Ministry of Defense, crushes the animals to death in a hyperbaric chamber to simulate the effects of deep ocean depths. The company claims that the tests are necessary for building military submarines. The animal liberationists snipped through fencing and plucked the goats from an outdoor enclosure and into a waiting van.

Photos of NYC Protest against Israeli Terrorism 7/28/06

Photos of NYC Protest against Israeli State Sponsored Terrorism and in Support of the Lebanese/Palestinian People!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Derrick Jensen at Capitol Theater Aug. 25 (Olympia WA)

please post and announce widely:

Derrick Jensen, author and activist

Friday, August 25
Capitol Theater (206 5th Ave SE Olympia, WA)
Doors open at 7:30pm, Event begins 8:00pm
Tickets are $5.00- $15.00 and are available at the box office night of show.

Come one, come all and put a fire under our community to fight the federal
grand jury coming to town, the occupation of Cheetwood (Black Bear Place,
the Nisqually name for Olympia), and the destruction of the Earth. Come
feel comforted that there are others who realize that the American
occupation started here, and that Iraq is just another page in a long book
of Civilization's death march. Join together with your friends in creating
a wall of resistance against this occupation here in America and against
outrageous state oppression. The Green Scare -- the FBI witch-hunt against
environmental activists -- has come to town, but we are up the challenge.

One person who has helped many realize the total failure of civilization
is author and activist Derrick Jensen. He has two new books about fighting
civilization, called Endgame volume I and II, and will speak about them.

Members of Olympia Civil Liberties Resource, a group formed to support the
civil liberties of activists in response to the Green Scare, will also
speak about how you can help the resistance movement against state
oppression and the grand jury coming to town. Real people, with real
friends and family, are facing 35-400 years in jail for allegedly
committing arson in this area. We need to show support for these people
and let the government know we will not tolerate their outrageous use of
force enabling their occupation and destruction of this placed called

Derrick Jensen is the author of Endgame Volumes I and II, The Culture of
Make Believe, A Language Older than Words, Listening to the Land:
Conversations about Nature, Culture, and Eros, a USA Today Critics Choice
for one of the best nature books of 1995, and Railroads and Clearcuts. He
writes for The New York Times Magazine, Audubon, and The Sun Magazine,
among many others.

Event sponsored by: Done and Done - Proceeds help benefit Olympia Civil
Liberties Resource

For more information visit and .

Olympia Civil Liberties Resource is an Olympia-based organization working
to defend the civil liberties of all citizens -- particularly activists
exercising their constitutional rights. OCLR seeks to educate the public
regarding current threats to civil liberties, and to act as a general
resource for activists.

London Free Press: More sites hit by vandals

More sites hit by vandals
A group called the Earth Liberation Front is suspected in the damage.
The list of London construction sites hit by vandals continues to grow as police investigate if the damage is the work of an eco-terrorist group.
Vandals who cut wires and filled gas tanks and oil systems with gravel caused more than $100,000 in damage at four sites in the south and west ends earlier this week.
Yesterday, Michael Hayman of Hayman Construction Inc. reported two of his sites were also hit by vandals believed to be from Earth Liberation Front, a group claiming responsibility for destruction at construction sites across Ontario, including Toronto, Guelph and Brantford.
"At first we just thought it was our two jobs," said Hayman, after learning from yesterday's Free Press of the vandalism spree in the city.
"We've had mischief vandalism (in the past), but not this particular thing," he said.
Site personnel found damage last Friday at the Home Depot site on Dundas Street and Clarke Road, said John Gautreau, a Hayman superintendent.
Vandals broke into the construction trailer, got cement and filled fuel tanks in excavating equipment with cement powder, he said.
"They got into all kinds of stuff here. It's costing people a lot of money."
Eight pieces of equipment were damaged and Gautreau estimated the value of each to be at least $30,000 -- all of which could have been lost, he said.
A repair crew arrived and "It took them more than an eight-hour day to get the equipment up and running again," he said.
A message smeared in grease was left on the windshield of an excavator, saying "something like 'Save our Earth,' " said Gautreau. The message was written backwards, so the machine operator could read it, he said.
The vandals "must have been on this job site for one to two hours minimum," Gautreau said.
"It's the first time I've ever seen this."
Whoever did the damage "would know gravel would cause a great deal of damage," said Hayman.
At the Toyota dealership on Wharncliffe Road, south of Southdale Road, workers found fuel tanks of four machines filled with gravel, along with pierced tires on a forklift, superintendent Doug Lelacheur said.
The damage was discovered Tuesday morning, he said.
"It's the down time that really hurts," said Lelacheur. About 40 people were temporarily out of work as equipment was repaired.
At a nearby site on Wharncliffe Road, vandals struck again, this time at Elgin Construction, cutting wires in at least two machines and filling fuel tanks with gravel, he said.
"That would bugger things up for a day or two," said Lelacheur.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Making It on the Outside, After Decades in Solitary

Making It on the Outside, After Decades in Solitary
Audio for this story will be available at approx. 7:30 p.m. ET
Daud Tulam

Laura Sullivan, NPR

Daud Tulam spent 18 years in isolation in the New Jersey State Prison. Now on the outside, he finds it difficult to make eye contact or make small talk with other people, including his family.

All Things Considered, July 28, 2006 · Daud Tulam likes to sit on the porch of his mother's house in Salem, N.J., and watch traffic whiz by.

"I spent most of the whole summer out here, daytime and night," he says. "After being confined for that long period of time, you really do have an appreciation for the outside."

That "long period" was the past 25 years, which Tulam spent inside the New Jersey State Prison. For most of that time, Tulam was held in isolation. He spent 23 hours a day alone in a cell no bigger than a bathroom and one hour in a concrete exercise yard.

Tulam is one of more than 25,000 inmates who serve their sentences this way in the United States. It's not what these prisoners did on the outside that sends them to isolation: It's how they behave on the inside. And once in isolation, there is often no way out.

Two Decades in Solitude

In Tulam's case, he was sent to prison for trying to rob a gun store. He was sent to isolation after prison officials say they caught him planning to assault officers. He stayed in isolation for 18 years.

New Jersey prison officials say he never participated in any programs that could have gotten him out. Tulam says he tried to participate, but they never let him out, so he gave up.

Now, on the outside, Tulam has trouble making small talk. Even after all those years alone, when faced with people looking for a conversation, Tulam doesn't engage.

Tulam is taking a class on welding at a local community college. During one recent session, he hid in the back of the classroom.

When the teacher comes over to check his work, Tulam only looks at the floor. At one point, the instructor asks Tulam if he understands a welding technique. Tulam does not look up -- or answer. Eventually, the instructor gives up and moves on.

'I Lost My Social Skills'

In many ways, Tulam's days are still filled with this kind of silence. But there is one place where Tulam suddenly has a lot to say: behind the wheel of his car, when his eyes -- and yours -- are on the road.

"I'm certain that I lost my social skills to a certain extent," Tulam says as he drives through the rundown streets of Salem. "Not that I'm unable to socialize. Just that trivial conversation for conversation's sake, I don't have no tolerance for."

Tulam's 6-foot-frame seems too big for the 15-year-old Taurus he's driving. He's wearing what he wears everyday: old jeans and a sweatshirt. He passes boarded-up buildings and liquor stores. Much has changed about this town, but he says even more has changed about him.

Tulam's luckier that most ex-convicts. He has a family, a place to stay and even some occasional construction work. But he finds much about society difficult. He doesn't like grocery stores, busy sidewalks or going to the movies. And he doesn't like parties.

That came as a shock to his family. Tulam's mother, Charlotte Fletcher, says Tulam used to love to socialize.

"He always had a few friends. But as far as I was concerned, it wasn't the right kind," Fletcher says.

Early on, she says, it was hard to keep her son away from kids who wanted to party.

"He was a young kid when he first got in trouble -- last year of high school," Fletcher says. "He was around with these guys. They been doing a lot of drinking and other things, so I guess he did some wild things."

Looking for 'Some Kind of Relief'

On the day Tulam was released from prison, his family threw him a party in the backyard. He spent the whole time sitting alone in a folding chair in the corner, while his nieces and nephews played. That's the other thing Tulam doesn't like anymore.

"You know, in prison there are no children," Tulam says. "The trivial kind of things kids do, the nonsensical things kids do, you don't have a tolerance for that. I'm still trying to really adapt."

Tulam says he struggled to make the days he spent in solitary pass. He began dividing his time into little increments: Make the bed. Write a letter. Do push ups.

"Even if I would have to go to sleep early, just to look for the next day to bring some kind of relief," Tulam says.

He still does that now. He schedules his day into activities: Take a shower. Eat breakfast. Sit outside. Go for a drive.

"I never use alarm clocks," Tulam says. "I've done it for so long, it's almost like second nature."

'You Become Your Best Company'

New Jersey has one of the least restrictive isolation units in the country. Prisoners in solitary are allowed visits with relatives, though Tulam's family could rarely afford the trip. They are also allowed televisions. Tulam says he kept his TV set on every day, morning until night, for 18 years.

"Up until that time, I never owned a TV, never had much interest in TV," he says. "But when I got into solitary, it was so quiet in there, I genuinely had to get me a TV, just to hear some noise."

Now he can't stand television. But he doesn't want to hang out with people, either. He doesn't talk much with his family. He hasn't joined any groups. He doesn't talk about having any friends.

"Having been in isolation, with hardly anybody to talk to, anyway, you just acquire a knack of just being able to -- like with me, you become your best company," Tulam says.

The Odds Against Making It

There are few statistics about how inmates who spend time in isolation adjust on the outside. Only two studies have been conducted; one looked at former inmates in Washington state, the other at those in Texas. The results weren't good.

In both studies, the rate of recidivism for inmates released from isolation was higher than for those released from the general prison population. And in Washington, researchers found these ex-inmates were more likely to commit violent crimes than their general population counterparts.

In that sense, Tulam is doing better than expected. Having a place to live and a mother to make him food has made a big difference. But at 51 years old, he's spent almost half his life in prison, most of it alone.

"I do have some regrets," he says, pausing for a moment before getting out of the car. "But ask me if I would ever want anybody else's life? Nah. I'm comfortable with the life that I've been given. You know, like saying that I'm a realist. I genuinely believe that every individual struggles in this life, anyway."

So after 18 years of isolation, Daud Tulam's greatest struggle may be finding a way not to live an isolated life.Life in Solitary Confinement

A Terrifying Distraction

The FBI's arrest of seven supposed terrorists in Miami last month is a case of governmental entrapment even more threatening than the NSA spying program.

A Terrifying Distraction

By Salim Muwakkil
In These Times

The FBI's arrest of seven supposed terrorists in Miami last month is a case of governmental entrapment even more threatening than the NSA spying program.

The arrest of seven men in Miami last month on specious terrorism charges smells strongly like a case of governmental entrapment. The men, six of whom are of Haitian descent, allegedly planned to blow up various targets—including government buildings and the Sears Tower in Chicago—but officials found no plans, explosives or any equipment whatsoever that could be used to effect the plot. In fact, the FBI informant who infiltrated the group posing as an al-Qaeda representative is the one who initiated the idea of blowing up government buildings.

The seven men are charged with two counts of conspiring to support a foreign terrorist organization, one count of conspiring to destroy buildings by use of explosives and one count of conspiring to wage war against the government.

The indictment contains no indication of an overt criminal act, except swearing an “oath of loyalty to al-Qaeda,” and taking pictures of FBI headquarters in Miami. The plot “was more aspirational than operational,” said FBI Deputy Director John Pistole at a news conference announcing the men’s arrest. In other words, the men committed a “thought crime,” the infamous offense lampooned in George Orwell’s novel 1984, which the U.S. Constitution protects us against. Even worse, an agent provocateur implanted the thought.

The seven men are Narseal Batiste, Patrick Abraham, Stanley Phanor, Naudimar Herrera, Burson Augustin, Lyglenson Lemorin and Rothschild Augustine, and they range in age from 22 to 32. Batiste, 32, is the group’s ringleader. Family members and friends say the men were part of a group seeking to better conditions in their impoverished Liberty City neighborhood and had no connection to al-Qaeda.

By making the connection, the Bush administration is conflating the activities of those fighting the legacy of slavery with those struggling in colonialism’s wake. This is not a random linkage; Mike Brooks, a law enforcement analyst for CNN, revealed on the June 22 edition of “Anderson Cooper 360” that, “on June 13, the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, put out a call, an information bulletin, ‘Black Separatism a Volatile Movement of Node—Node of Domestic Radicalization.’”

According to Brooks, the bulletin named “the Nation of Islam, New Black Panther Party, … the New Black Panther Nation and Five Percenters” as groups of current concern to law enforcement. The focus on black nationalists is a reprise of the FBI’s infamous COINTELPRO program that ran from 1956 to 1971 and was designed to “neutralize” black nationalists and other domestic dissidents.

The program was discontinued in 1971, after a Senate committee found that “many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that.”

The U.S. government historically has regarded Black Nationalism as a threat because it challenges the white supremacist biases that frame much of American society.

Some nationalists also infused Islamic imagery and terminology into their programs to counterpoint what many considered the “enslaving” religion of Christianity. Organizations like Noble Drew Ali’s Moorish Science Temple of America (begun in Newark, N.J., in 1913) and Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam (Detroit, circa 1931) explicitly rejected organized Christianity. Since self-professed Christians perpetrated the racist oppression suffered by black people, these groups claimed Islamic pedigree. But their race-based belief systems bore little resemblance to mainstream Islam.

According to associates, the Miami Seven were acolytes of Ali’s Moorish Science Temple, although they weren’t formally affiliated. That distinction didn’t prevent the media from branding them “radical Muslims,” implying they shared the ideology of al-Qaeda.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the group, which neighbors said called itself “Seas of David,” conducted surveillance of several federal office buildings in Miami and discussed bombing the Sears Tower in Chicago. He said they took an oath to al-Qaeda and plotted to create an “Islamic Army” bent on “killing all the devils we can.”

The al-Qaeda impersonator, who, according to the CBS-affiliated television station in Miami, was a Middle Eastern native seeking U.S. residential status by aiding the FBI, wrote the “oath.” He also suggested exploding the FBI buildings, supplied the camera and rented the vehicle to take surveillance photos of the Miami office.

This is a case of governmental entrapment, even more threatening than the NSA spying program. Predictably, the American people, even progressives, seem oblivious to this threat. African-Americans should be particularly vigilant about this COINTELPRO re-run in the name of the war on terrorism.


[Please Read, Respond and Forward]


For Immediate Release
July 27, 2006

The ongoing invasion of Lebanon by Israel has left hundreds
of its residents either dead or injured. Meanwhile, the
58-year Zionist occupation of Palestine has escalated, bringing
with it more death and destruction for the Palestinian people.

Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians have been rendered
homeless and unable to meet their most basic needs by Israel's
deliberate and conscious effort to destroy Lebanon's civilian
infrastructure. Entire neighborhoods in the south of Lebanon and
Beirut have been literally wiped out using US-supplied weapons.

Since the siege of Gaza one month ago, the Palestinian death
toll includesmore than 31 children, killed by the hand of the
"Israeli" occupier.

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, calls on all
people of conscience to donate to its Lebanon Palestine Emergency
Relief Fund. All donations will be used to help Palestinian and
Lebanese victims of the latest Israeli aggression.

Please make your tax-deductible donation payable to "Al-Awda, PRRC".
Indicate "Lebanon Palestine Emergency Fund" in the memo section.

Checks or money orders should be mailed to:

Al-Awda, PRRC
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA

To make a secure online donation using your credit card, go to and follow the instructions.
Please email us at to let us know that your
online donation is intended for the 'Lebanon Palestine Emergency Fund'.

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA
Tel: 760-685-3243
Fax: 360-933-3568

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition (PRRC), is a not for profit
tax-exempt educational and charitable 501(c)(3) organization as defined by
the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States of America. Under
IRS guidelines, your donations to PRRC
are tax-deductible

Anti war protestors elect undercover cops to lead protest march

This would also indicate a problem with the method of selecting leaders, i.e., electing cops to plan and direct a march within an hour of meeting them.

Police spies chosen to lead war protest
- Demian Bulwa, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, July 28, 2006

Two Oakland police officers working undercover at an anti-war protest in May 2003 got themselves elected to leadership positions in an effort to influence the demonstration, documents released Thursday show.

The department assigned the officers to join activists protesting the U.S. war in Iraq and the tactics that police had used at a demonstration a month earlier, a police official said last year in a sworn deposition.

At the first demonstration, police fired nonlethal bullets and bean bags at demonstrators who blocked the Port of Oakland's entrance in a protest against two shipping companies they said were helping the war effort. Dozens of activists and longshoremen on their way to work suffered injuries ranging from welts to broken bones and have won nearly $2 million in legal settlements from the city.

The extent of the officers' involvement in the subsequent march May 12, 2003, led by Direct Action to Stop the War and others, is unclear. But in a deposition related to a lawsuit filed by protesters, Deputy Police Chief Howard Jordan said activists had elected the undercover officers to "plan the route of the march and decide I guess where it would end up and some of the places that it would go."

It was revealed later that the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center, which was established by the state attorney general's office to help local police agencies fight terrorism, had posted an alert about the April protest. Oakland police had also monitored online postings by the longshoremen's union regarding its opposition to the war.

The documents showing that police subsequently tried to influence a demonstration were released Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union, as part of a report criticizing government surveillance of political activists since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The ACLU said the documents came from the lawsuit over the police use of force.

Jordan, in his deposition in April 2005, said under questioning by plaintiffs' attorney Jim Chanin that undercover Officers Nobuko Biechler and Mark Turpin had been elected to be leaders in the May 12 demonstration an hour after meeting protesters that day.

Asked who had ordered the officers to infiltrate the group, Jordan said, "I don't know if there is one particular person, but I think together we probably all decided it would be a good idea to have some undercover officers there."

Several months after the rally, Jordan told a city police review board examining the April 2003 port clash that "our ability to gather intelligence on these groups and this type of operation needs to be improved," according to a transcript provided by the ACLU.

"I don't mean same-day intelligence," Jordan told the civilian review panel. "I'm talking about long-term intelligence gathering."

He noted that "two of our officers were elected leaders within an hour on May 12." The idea was "to gather the information and maybe even direct them to do something that we want them to do," Jordan said.

"I call that being totalitarian," said Jack Heyman, a longshoremen's union member who took part in the May 12 march. He said he was not certain whether he had any contact with the officers that day.

Jordan declined to comment when reached at his office Thursday. In his deposition, he said the Police Department no longer allows such undercover work.

City Attorney John Russo said he was not familiar with the police infiltration of the protest, but said the city had made "significant changes" in its approach toward demonstrations after the port incident. Police enacted a new crowd-control policy limiting the use of nonlethal force in 2004.

The ACLU said the Oakland case was one of several instances in which police agencies had spied on legitimate political activity since 2001.

Mark Schlosberg, who directs the ACLU's police policy work and wrote the report released Thursday, cited previously reported instances of spying on groups in Santa Cruz and Fresno in addition to the Oakland case. He called on state Attorney General Bill Lockyer and local police to ensure that law-abiding activist groups don't come under government investigation.

"It's very important that there be regulation up front to prevent these kinds of abuses from occurring," Schlosberg said at a news conference.

Schlosberg said the state needs an independent inspector looking into complaints and keeping an eye on intelligence gathering at such agencies as the California National Guard and the state Department of Homeland Security.

Tom Dresslar, a spokesman for Lockyer, said the attorney general had not yet read the ACLU report. But he said his boss "won't abide violations of civil liberties. There's no room in this state or anywhere in this country for monitoring the activity of groups merely because they have a political viewpoint."

Following the Oakland port protest and disclosures about the monitoring of activists, Lockyer issued guidelines in 2003 stating that police must suspect that a crime has been committed before collecting intelligence on activist groups.

But Schlosberg said the ACLU had surveyed 94 law enforcement agencies last year and found that just eight were aware of the guidelines. Only six had written policies restricting surveillance activities, he said.

Paul Wright, Editor

Prison Legal News

972 Putney Rd. PMB 251

Brattleboro, VT 05301

(802) 257-1342

Seattle Office:

2400 NW 80th St. PMB 148

Seattle, WA 98117

(206) 246-1022

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Josh Wolf - Journalist facing Jail

For more info, press releases, and updates about Josh's case:

Support Josh Wolf!
Journalist Faces Jail Time for Resisting Grand Jury
Subpoena Contempt
Hearing Tuesday August 1

Where: Federal Building; 450 Golden Gate Ave.
San Francisco
When: August 1, 2006

9:00 AM Civil Contempt Hearing

Josh Wolf's civil contempt hearing was continued until
Tuesday August 1st. He still faces over a year in jail
for refusing to testify or turn over video out takes to a
Federal Grand Jury investigating a July, 2005, anti-G8 demonstration.
At Josh's last hearing over 30 supporters, family and press filled
the courtroom. Judge Alsup (in contrast to his last performance)
was less abrasive and we feel this is due to the large turn out
in the courtroom. This is why we are continuing our call for
supporters to attend his upcoming hearings.

Josh faces more than a year in Santa Rita Jail for simply ]
exercising his constitutional right to remain silent, while standing
up for freedom of the press. This is one of several grand juries
being convened across the country to harass, intimidate and collect
information on political activists and their supporters.Please spread
the word and attend Josh's hearing. Let's have another show of solidarity
and support for Josh!

for more info and updates about Josh's case:



For Immediate Release
July 27, 2006

The ongoing invasion of Lebanon by Israel has left hundreds of its
residents either dead or injured. Meanwhile, the 58-year Zionist
occupation of Palestine has escalated, bringing with it more death and
destruction for the Palestinian people.

Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians have been rendered
homeless and unable to meet their most basic
needs by Israel's deliberate and conscious effort to destroy Lebanon's
civilian infrastructure. Entire neighborhoods in the south of Lebanon and
Beirut have been literally wiped out using US-supplied weapons.

Since the siege of Gaza one month ago, the Palestinian death toll includes
more than 31 children, killed by the hand of the "Israeli" occupier.

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, calls on all people of
conscience to donate to its Lebanon Palestine Emergency Relief Fund. All
donations will be used to help Palestinian and Lebanese victims of the
latest Israeli aggression.

Please make your tax-deductible donation payable to "Al-Awda, PRRC".
Indicate "Lebanon Palestine Emergency Fund" in the memo section.

Checks or money orders should be mailed to:

Al-Awda, PRRC
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA

To make a secure online donation using your credit card, go to and follow the instructions. Please email
us at to let us know that your online donation is intended
for the 'Lebanon Palestine Emergency Fund'.

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
PO Box 131352
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Tel: 760-685-3243
Fax: 360-933-3568

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Are you now or have you ever been an environmentalist?

Red Pepper
Are you now or were you ever an enviromentalist?
Janie Goodwin
Red Pepper Magazine
July 2006

In the wake of the US war on terror, nonviolent campaigners are increasingly being caught up in a Green Scare that defines them as terrorists

In the US today, terrorism has replaced communism as the catchphrase for all that is evil in the world. Where the Red Scare once saw all left-wingers stigmatised as communists, it is environmentalists and animal rights activists who are now being targeted as eco-terrorists by the media, business interests and politicians including the attorney general, Alberto Gonzales. Building on post-9/11 fears and legislation, a new Green Scare has escalated in recent months with a sudden rise in the number of environmentalists arrested and a dramatic lengthening of the potential sentences they face. Activists who have never physically harmed anyone now risk being arrested and charged with crimes that carry life sentences or, as in one case, a charge sheet that could result in a 300-year prison sentence.

On 7 December 2005, the FBI began Operation Backfire, a multi-state sweep of environmental and animal rights activists. Fifteen people have since been indicted by Grand Jury on 65 charges in connection with Earth Liberation actions between 1996 and 2001. The arrests sent shockwaves across the activist community in the US, with the constant threat of new arrests and legislation resulting in the spread of fear and caution.

Many of those arrested recently insist on their innocence, and the FBI evidence against them is weak. A confession by a self-proclaimed arsonist and heroin addict provided the initial basis for the arrests. The accused were then encouraged to give evidence against each other, in return for the promise of reduced sentences. But confessions under duress are not always the most reliable sources of information.

In the current US political climate, it is virtually impossible for the accused to get a fair trial once the spectre of terrorism has been raised. This became clear during the SHAC 7 case, brought against activists from the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) campaign. They were put on trial under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, which legislators dubbed the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. It defines as a terrorist anyone who causes financial damage to companies involved in the animal industry.

The six were not accused of carrying out any crimes themselves, but rather of maintaining a website containing information that could potentially be used to commit a crime. They were essentially being accused of terrorism for exercising their right to free speech. But the jury didnt see it that way. Getting past the term terrorist proved too difficult, and the six were found guilty on all counts. They now face potential sentences between one and 23 years for the administration of a website.

This climate of fear is reinforced by legislative changes that have considerably broadened the definition of a terrorist. Successful lobbying by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a powerful right-wing advocacy group funded by more than 300 corporations, has resulted in several pieces of state-level legislation now defining terrorism as an act by two or more persons organised for the purpose of supporting any politically motivated activity intended to obstruct or deter any person from participating in an activity involving animals or an activity involving natural resources. It needlessly includes such acts as property defacement which is already illegal within the scope of terrorism, and holds the potential to include other forms of legal protest within the same definition. So far ten states have already passed legislation defining the destruction of property as terrorism.

At a federal level, Section 802 of the USA Patriot Act (the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act) defines domestic terrorism as an act that intends to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping with the intent to harm human life. But as the American Civil Liberties Union points out, the breadth of the first two of these definitions means that Greenpeace, Operation Rescue, Vieques Island and WTO protesters and the Environmental Liberation Front have all recently engaged in activities that could subject them to being investigated as engaging in domestic terrorism.

The Patriot Act also includes greatly expanded search and seizure powers, making it far easier to arrest activists. The US government can now search homes, workplaces, documents and emails, listen to telephone conversations and follow internet use patterns without proving probable cause that someone has committed a crime. They only need to assert, but not prove, reasonable grounds to think that a person may be involved in terrorist activity. These search and seizure powers are the same as those that caused public outcry in 1971 when the FBIs Cointelpro (counter intelligence programme) was discovered and it became known that the FBI was carrying out illegal and covert activities in violation of the right to privacy and free speech in order to misdirect, discredit, disrupt and otherwise neutralise political resistance.

To add insult to injury, the Senate is currently debating the USA Patriot Act II, which would greatly expand the powers of the executive branch the White House, Department of Justice and so on over the judiciary. The proposed Act would also make certain search warrants obtainable without a court order, further undermining the checks and balances built into the democratic structures of government.

These measures look likely to make an already bad situation worse. There are now so many pending cases that it is impossible to mention them all here. But there is an urgent need for support from abroad. For those arrested, it provides much needed moral support to know that people overseas are aware of their situation. And for US activists in general, it lessens the sense of isolation and fear as they are targeted under the Green Scare.

Please visit for more information, and write a letter to the US embassy asking them to ensure a fair trial and calling for an end to the description of environmental activists as terrorists: Robert Holmes Tuttle, Embassy of the United States, 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1A 1AE. Tel O20 7499 9000

from via



Friday, July 28th
3:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Zionist Consulate
800 2nd Ave (btw 42nd & 43rd Sts.)
New York, NY

Why: Yet again in front of the Israeli Consulate during mid-day traffic, thisFriday, July 28, 2006 at 3:30pm, the people of New York unite to condemn in the strongest terms the savage Israeli occupation and massacre of the innocent Palestinian and Lebanese people.

As the innocent children of Palestine and Lebanon cry in grief and despair, the people of New York respond. Launching yet another weekend of activity in solidarity with the Lebanese and Palestinian people who are enduring one of the worst assaults in history, thousands of New Yorkers unite to remind the world, the US government, and the rogue Israeli state that the attacks on Lebanon and Palestine must stop immediately. The street actions began the day of the Israeli bombing of Lebanon, and have not since ended sprouting up across the city in parks, streets and campuses.

The Israeli Government, owner of the fourth largest military power in the world, continues to massacre Lebanese and Palestinian civilians, a repeat of its genocidal policies conducted in Lebanon in 1982, and an extension of the fifty-eight year Israeli policy toward Palestinians. The Israeli State is recipient of two-thirds of the US Foreign Aid Budget, receiving the equivalent of $4 Billion/ year of American Tax Dollars. It is with these American Dollars and American-made weapons that the Israeli government is murdering Lebanese and Palestinian nationals, wiping out entire families, leaving them buried under the rubble that once was their homes, and destroying all civilian infrastructure needed for basic survival.

Groups and individuals of conscience across the city, across the country and across the world demand that:

1. The US government stop all financial support of the Israeli State;

2. That the Israelis cease fire and withdraw from all Lebanese and Palestinian Lands;

3. That the Israelis release all Arab and Palestinian Political Prisoners, over 10,000 are held of whom approximately one thousand are women and children;

4. All Lebanese and Palestinian Refugees be immediately allowed to return to their homes to live in safety.

Called by: (AMAF) Arab Muslim American Federation, CAIR, MAS, ICNA, Al-Awda NY, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition

Endorsed by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, International Action Center, A.N.S.W.E.R, NAAP, along with numerous mosques, churches and organizations across New York and New Jersey.

Ashanti Alston at Political Prisoners support rally in Mexico wrote:


July 25, 2006

To you who are the dreamers and keepers of the dreams, the
people's dreams.

To you who picked up arms, pens and the volume of freedom cries.

To you who the hands of the dream-killers have imprisoned from
1994 to Atenco because you dared to follow the leadership of your
hearts along with many other hearts that now sing with freedom
songs. We sing in the African community churches of the United
HERE. And we understand that in all faiths and most (ha! ha!) ideologies.

To you who are POLITICAL PRISONERS, like our own in the
USA, we honor you. We hold you dear in our hearts, the place
where your dreams (which are our dreams) find nurturing embrace
with people in resistance. Dreams that also grow wings in the course
of adversity and fly through the cracks of the walls and bars of your
and our confinements.

It is even under these extraordinary and horrible conditions that we
find each other and inspire each other. What was our isolation is
destroyed that easily, because we know that prison can have no
real victory of us. Our spirit is greater than arrogant political, military
and corporate power-holders who, even behind all of their wealth
and weaponry, fear the wonderful life-affirming power of the people.

To you new human being imprisoned for resistance, I send you the
salute of all the POLITICAL PRISONERS in the United SNAKES
of America, political prisoners who are African, Asian, Latino European,
working folks, gays – ALL DREAMERS – they would want me to say to you:


We met your compañeros in San Cristóbal yesterday and saw their wings.
They are fighting for your “return flight”. Isn't that wonderful? What a
glorious revolution of winged hearts. Hold fast – VICTORY IS OURS.

“Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die, Life is a broken-winged bird that
cannot fly, Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams go, Life is a barren field,
Frozen with snow.” —Langston Hughes, black revolutionary poet




Ashanti Alston

Former member of the Black Panther Party/Black Liberation Army,
imprisoned 14 years – USA

Co-chair of the National Jericho Movement (for the freedom of all
Political Prisoners in the USA and its colonies)


Speech by Dr. Salman Abu Sitta at 4th International Al-Awda Convention

Back to Roots

Salman Abu Sitta

Al-Awda’s 4th International Convention

San Francisco, 14th - 16th July 2006

Thank you Jess for your kind introduction. I have just landed after a 10 hour flight from London, crossing an 8 hour time zone. I had plenty of time to reflect on our situation. Today, terrible news from Gaza and Lebanon, describing the death and destruction sown by Israel, gives us an eerie sense of dejas-vu. Al Nakba is re-enacted everyday of our lives.

Over half a century ago, it would have been inconceivable, that I, a Palestinian boy living peacefully in his home thousands of miles away, would be speaking to you here today, nor that many of you, third generation refugees from Palestine, would be here in such numbers, away from the homes of your fathers and grandfathers. But such is the working of al Nakba

I became a refugee at the age of 10, when strange European Zionist settlers invaded my country, destroyed my home and made me a refugee. I spent all my adult life wondering why this enemy destroyed my life. I tried to put a face to this invisible enemy – for I have never seen one before. Like millions of Palestinians, I started, then in 1948, on the long trek to return home, The trajectory of expulsion propelled us to the four corners of the earth but our compass was always directed towards our home. In unison and in unbelievable resilience, we vowed: We shall never rest until we return home.

This is the ninetieth year in our struggle for freedom and peaceful life in our homeland. In 1916, two European colonial diplomats, the British Mark Sykes and the French Georges Picot conspired to enslave the Arab people after winning the war in alliance with the Arabs against the Ottoman rule. While the Allies’ planes were dropping leaflets expressing devotion to the Arab quest for freedom and democracy, Sykes and Picot charted on a map lines dividing of the territorial spoils of war.

A latent European colonial enterprise came into the fray. The Zionist leader, Weizmann extracted a fateful letter from the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Balfour, in November 1917 addressed to a Jewish millionaire, Lord Rothschild. None of the three conspiring Europeans lived in Palestine or had a legitimate presence in Palestine. The British army then had barely crossed the border of Palestine.

Balfour declaration was a false promise of those who did not own to those who had no title behind the back of the rightful owner. Thus began a relentless Western war against the Palestinian people, now in its ninetieth year.

Balfour was fully aware of what he was doing. True to his colonial heritage, he said in 1918,

For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country…..[Zionism is] of far profounder impact than the desires and prejudices [not the rights] of the Arabs who inhabit this ancient land..

He said the Arabs are “wholly barbarous, undeveloped and unorganized black tribes”.

The British Mandate ruled Palestine from 1920 to 1948 with the irreconcilable objectives of preparing the Palestinians for free democratic government and building a ‘national home’ for Jews in Palestine.

Nine decades before George Bush came up with his campaign for democracy for the whole world, the Palestinians started their campaign for democracy. When they petitioned, agitated and revolted for their cause, Churchill, the Colonial Secretary, told them in 1921,

Step by step we shall develop representative institutions leading to full self-government but our children’s children will have passed away before that is accomplished…..

They are still waiting. They have not given up.

In his five-year tenure (1920-1925), the Zionist first British High Commissioner of Palestine, Herbert Samuel, laid the foundations for the state of Israel.

Hebrew was introduced as an official language, separate Jewish institutions for banking, education, labor, water and energy were formed. A pseudo government and an embryonic army were established. What was left was to import citizens for the new state, hence the drive for Jewish immigration.

By 1948, with the collusion of the British Mandate, The Zionists failed to acquire, even by money, Zionist-inspired laws and economic pressure, more than 5.5% of the land of Palestine. But they succeeded in increasing the Jewish population from 9% to 30% of the total population and they trained an army of 120,000, or 20% of the Jewish immigrant population. (Compare this with a normal country, where the army makes up 1 - 2% of the population). This Zionist army was ready to pounce on Palestine.

It is often said in the standard Israeli narrative that, at the end of the Mandate, the Palestinians refused to accept the Partition Plan of Palestine, while the Jews accepted it. This narrative deliberately omits and distorts key facts.

How can the Palestinians accept to give away sovereignty over 54% of their country to Jewish European immigrants who controlled only 5.5% of Palestine, many of whom had just waded into their shores under the cover of darkness from a smuggler’s ship?

In the would-be Jewish state, 457 Palestinian towns and villages suddenly found themselves under the rule of foreign immigrants. The Palestinians comprised about half of the total population of this new state.

They did not like it. Neither did Ben Gurion, for different reasons. In 1948, Ben Gurion proceeded to expel his Palestinian citizens even before Israel was declared and he went on, not only to conquer 54%, but 78% of Palestine and expel its population. Al Nakba was born.

Zionists, now called Israelis, conquered 774 Palestinian towns and villages, depopulated totally 675 of them, while 99 remained under brutal military rule for 16 years to be replaced by second class citizen status.

It was the largest planned and foreign-supported ethnic cleaning in modern history.

Never before in modern history has a foreign minority descended upon the national majority of a country as in Palestine, depopulated its inhabitants, confiscated its land, property and records in the largest land robbery since WW II, destroyed its historical and religious landscape and obliterated its identity and history and called this crime as a victory for civilization and a divine intervention.

These who missed al Nakba of 1948 can see it re-enacted every day on their TV screens, albeit in different forms and under different pretexts.

Today the Palestinian population is about 10 million (9.650). Two thirds are refugees, the largest ratio among any people in the world. If you add those displaced in 1967, fully three quarters of the Palestinians are deprived of the normal human right to live at home. The remainder live under Israeli occupation, the longest and most brutal occupation in modern times.

You are the children and grandchildren of those refugees. You are fighting for the same cause: The right to return home. You have not sailed to Poland and Russia. Your adversaries sailed to your shores. You did not conquer, plunder and expel. Others did it to you.

Israel has waged 5 major wars, hundreds of raids by air, land and sea against the Palestinian people for exactly 21,412 days today. But Palestinians are still standing tall. They never surrendered.

In the last 6 years since the second intifada, 3500 Palestinians were killed, over 9000 are prisoners at present, but 40% of all adult male population have been imprisoned at one time by the Israeli occupation forces.

In what the author and film director, John Pilger, calls ‘a war on children’, seven hundred children were killed by Israeli occupation forces since 2000. This is not to mention Mohamed al Durra killed in his father’s lap or Huda Ghalia, the child who lost all her family on a Gaza beach.

Ethnic cleansing is a crime against humanity according the sixth principle of the Nuremberg Charter and the 1998 Statute of Rome. Collective punishment is contrary to Geneva Conventions. The International Court of Justice, the highest legal body in the world, in a landmark Advisory Opinion of July 2004, decreed that the Apartheid wall is illegal and Israel’s brutal occupation is illegal.

The famous UN resolution 194, calling for the refugees’ return has been affirmed by the UN over 130 times. It has been supported by all Human Rights Conventions. The majority of the people in the world support the Palestinian rights. Why then are they not implemented? Why do Palestinians continue to suffer?

I submit to you that a campaign of genocide has been waged against the Palestinian people, a genocide of killing, a genocide of elimination, a genocide of exile and banishment, a genocide of decapitating people by assassinating their leaders, a genocide of starvation, a genocide of slow death by cutting sources of food, water and medicine, a genocide of civilized life by destroying schools, universities and hospitals, a genocide of oblivion by destroying the national identity and denying the right for citizenship and nationality.

Israel has done that and more. It is the raison d’etre of Israel. Ben Gurion said that the destruction of Palestine is a pre-condition for the foundation of Israel.

We know all that. We also know that Israel could not have done that without the massive military, financial and political support of the US Administration. You live here and you know this better than me. You only need to read the report by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, well-known scholars, not particularly pro-Arab, on the influence of Israel Lobby on US foreign policy and the damage it does to US interests.

While US foreign policy is openly and unashamedly biased in favor of Israel, Europe, The original colonial power, continues to play the same role it did in 1916. Europe gives conditional aid to Palestinians. It tells them: if you accept Israeli occupation and drop your rights, we will give enough aid to keep you alive. If you do not, we will let your starve. We will also not let anybody else help you. Deliberate starvation of a people is a crime against humanity. Yes this is what the hypocritical European politicians publicly declare.

The conditional aid they give to Palestinians is in effect financing the occupation. Israel, the Occupying Power, is obliged under the 4th Geneva Convention and generally Humanitarian Law to pay for all services needed for the occupied people. Europe relieves Israel from this burden and let it free to conduct its brutal occupation

I once said to some European diplomats : Do you not have the courage at least to recover the cost of hospitals you built and Israel destroyed? He could not answer.

The monumental verdict by the International Court of Justice of 9th July 2004 and its subsequent endorsement by the UN did not cause any western power to move Nato forces, apply sanctions or economic blockade, not even make a strong protest, against Israel’s violation of international law, as they have done with ferocity in innumerable other cases.

Outside the UN resolutions, western powers have proposed over two dozen schemes for the so called “peace in the Middle East” since Israel was conditionally admitted to the UN in 1949.

As an exercise, I went through all those schemes. Not one of them, not one, forces Israel to implement International Law. They all require Palestinians to drop all or most of their rights, under the rubric of “realism” and ask them to legitimize Israel’s violation of International Law.

Take the Right of Return. It is enshrined in International Law and affirmed repeatedly, particularly for the Palestinian refugees. It has been implemented in Kosova, Bosnia, East Timor, Ruwanda, Guatemala, Abkhazia, Afghanistan and Iraq. But not in Palestine. Why?

The response we here from sympathetic Europeans: it is not realistic, it is not feasible, there is no room, villages are destroyed, no where to return to…..etc.

What if this is true? This is like saying: If you intend to kill or steal, you will be punished. But if you successfully kill and steal, you are forgiven for the crime and what you steal is yours. There is no moral, legal or even political logic behind that.

But it is not true. Such Zionist myths have been demystified long ago. We have shown that:

- The land of the refugees, which is 93% of Israel, is inhabited by 1.5% of Israeli Jews, largely in the Kibbutz, which is financially and politically bankrupt. The Kibbutz share the refugees’ land with the army for its expansionist and occupation campaigns.

- 90% of the village sites are still vacant, 7% are partially built-over, and only 3% are totally built over in Tel Aviv and West Jerusalem.

- The total number of Russian immigrants is equal to all registered refugees in Lebanon and Gaza. If Israel wanted peace, refugees could have returned. Instead, new conflict is created and the racist Sharansky and Lieberman became new Israel’s leaders.

- 97% of refugees are located within 100 km from their homes and 50% are within 40 km, a mere bus ride. Many can see their houses but they cannot get there.

- Gaza population density is 6000 persons/km2 while their land, a few kilometers away, is empty, at 6 rural Jews/km2. All the rural Jews in half of Israel, from Ramleh to Um Rashrash (Eilat) are less in number than a single refugee camp in Gaza.

We could go on and on. This was published in books and atlases. The facts were never disputed by Israelis, only the motives behind them.

That is about Palestine enemies. But what about the Palestinian position?

PLO was formed in 1964 as the representative of the Palestinian people with the sole aim of restoring their rights. In 1974, the UN passed several resolutions to affirm that these rights are inalienable. In 1988, The Palestine National Council made a major concession. It split its national objectives into two: (1) establishing a Palestine state on only one fifth of its territory and ( 2 ) pursuing the Right of Return of the refugees to their homes wherever they may be, precisely in the meaning of resolution 194.

Oslo Accords of 1993 were a watershed. Palestinian leadership, at its lowest ebb, accepted these Accords which had two major flows: (1) they ignored the massive body of International Law that supported Palestinian rights, and (2) The Palestinian people were neither consulted nor have they agreed to Oslo Accords in any fully representative way through referendum or a freshly elected PNC. The major victim was the refugees rights.

Hence, the Rights of Return Movement was born. Committees, groups and associations were formed in every place in the world where there were concentration of refugees. By 1998, the fiftieth year of al Nakba, this movement became a formidable voice. Dedicated activists, academics, writers and community leaders worked tirelessly and joined forces with liberal and human rights groups. Today no one can deny their presence. But they lacked a unified consolidated political entity. This situation is becoming detrimental to our cause and cannot continue.

The reason is simple. The internal conflict between Hamas, the elected PA government and Fatah, the old largely corrupt faction, stifled any progress towards the essential Palestinian issues.

Last month, I met many Palestinian leaders, including Abu Mazen. It is my considered opinion, supported by many others, that Fatah clings to PLO structure, which it previously marginalized, as the only remaining vehicle for power.

Israel and Western powers support Abu Mazen more or less and act to destroy Hamas government because it is the elected representative that would not forfeit Palestinian inalienable rights. Israel does not consider Palestinians or Arabs a military threat. But Palestinians have a coveted valuable prize that Israel desperately seeks: that is legitimacy, that is for Palestinians to say: there is no Palestine, no Palestinians, no rights big or small. They want Abu Mazen, the nominal head of outdated PLO, to sign on behalf of all Palestinians on the required concessions, in what would be called a historic settlement. Then he and PLO will be dumped in the bin.

Organized members of Fatah, Hamas and other factions do not count for more than 5% of all Palestinians. Where is the voice of 95% of Palestinians? Who represents them now? Who defends their rights? It is, and should be, the Palestine National Council, the source of ultimate power and the arbiter of the destiny of the Palestinian people.

As you know, the old PNC is now defunct, its members have been gathered arbitrarily and it has grown to 600 or 700 unknown people. Many have died or lost touch with the people. There must be a new PNC, clean, lean and truly representative council through elections everywhere. It is our only safety net.

We have a large database to know who the Palestinians are, where they come from, where they are today. Elections could be held in many parts of the world and, where not possible, other representative means may be devised.

The PNC membership should not exceed 250, at the rate of one member for 40,000 or 4 village units. Only 33% of Palestinians now live in Occupied Palestine of 1967, under PA. All Palestinians, including those in 1948, should be represented.

These simple and necessary principles are rejected or obstructed by current leadership. They wish to allocate half the seats to the one-third of the people under PA. They underestimate the weight of Palestinians abroad. One leader, who appears on TV frequently, told me, “we are in the fire. We represent you. That is enough”. He did not mention the secret agreements by his ilk to drop the Right of Return, nor the corruption as his credentials.

This old tired leadership gives lame excuses for not holding PNC elections. They delay endlessly convening the meeting of the Preparatory Committee which should be entrusted with holding the elections.

They ignore the major fact, plain to all, that western powers court the present leadership for the single reason that they sign concessions in the name of PLO on behalf of the Palestinian people. Then they and PLO will be wiped out. The two thirds of Palestinians will be left to their own devices or forcibly settled somewhere.

We must prevent this happening. PLO and PNC are our major, probably only, achievement in the past half a century as the representative of the Palestinian people. A new PNC must be elected soon.

To do that, we have to forge a union of all groups to speak with one voice. We then must hold a popular conference of 1000-2000 people for Palestinians of all walks of life. A venue is already available. We must form a single unified people’s voice very soon. We must participate in the Preparatory Committee of PNC and prevent it being high-jacked by old cronies.

As we have forced our presence in the media and human rights activism, we must now have a real, strong voice in shaping our destiny.

Our resilience and determination has carried us through 58 years. We should carry this message forward, a message of freedom and justice.

And as we always say:

Ma dha’a huqqon wara’hu mutalib.

(No right is lost if pursued vigorously).