7 October 2007
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Several years ago at a faculty party on the UCSD campus I encountered a young professor of Asian Studies who seemed interested in sharing with me his recent experiences in Japan. He had gone to Japan on a research project which brought him into contact with Second World War veterans, and one day he interviewed an elderly man who had been part of the Japanese invading forces into China in 1937. The old man recalled the military invasion and remembered speaking one evening to a Chinese peasant, who was a Communist militant. The peasant had told the Japanese soldier that Communism was the future. "Just look at yourself," the Japanese soldier replied to his Chinese captive, "look at your family! Why, you can't even support them! You are not the future, Fascism is the future. Look at me! Look at our forces. Your kind will soon be extinct!" The Chinese peasant was killed the next morning, and the Japanese soldier moved on with his regiment to the next district. For some reason, decades later, this Japanese war veteran felt the need to share his experience with the visiting American professor from San Diego, and for another unknown reason this professor wished to communicate this information to me.
I wondered that they did not kill the Chinese Communist peasant on the spot, but the Fascist wanted to convince his victim of the superiority of his vision of the future before the kill. His ideology was his raison d'être. He had no doubt that Fascism was the future and he wished to demonstrate this lesson at every opportunity.
The current crisis of liberal capitalism is quickly evolving into something very ugly. It is not the first mutation that this system has undergone, but it is nevertheless unsettling for those of us living in this sewer of violence, abuse, and massive indifference. There seems to be no shortage of men and women for hire, to do the dirty work --both ideological and physical-- that is necessary to keep this ruptured system afloat in a sea of termoil.
The remarkable debate between Naomi Klein and Alan Greenspan that was featured on the September 25th news broadcast by Democracy Now! is just one illustration of this futile defense of a failed system. Like in the Wizard of Oz, when Toto draws back the curtain, we see a confused old man, trying to rationalize something over which he has had little control, but from which he has made enormous profits for himself and for his cronies, not unlike the hopelessly addicted gambler who is not sure how the Casino operates, but as long as his luck holds out he will defend its right to exist.
Alan Greenspan vs. Naomi Klein on the Iraq War, Bush's Tax Cuts, Economic Populism, 'Crony Capitalism' and More . . . .
Another illustration of the institutionalized violence in the recent news was the Senate Committee Hearings on the Blackwater USA corporation, and particularly interesting was the formal questioning of the young reclusive founder and CEO of Blackwater, Mr. Erik Prince. This cynical young man, with "important family connections," simply put together an efficient private army of killers, and, with the assets of family and corporate friends, launched careers in murder and terror in exchange for high salaries and U.S. government protection. We must assume the creation of Blackwater fulfilled corporate needs in the U.S. political economy, and there is no reason to think that these needs no longer exist.
Mr. Prince Goes to Washington: Blackwater Founder Testifies Before Congress
If the Grand Strategy of the Fascist movement is the creation of the Übermenschen and the extinction of the untermenschen, then we might ask what is the Grand Strategy of progressive forces in the world aiming at? a) at imposing new state regulations that would constrain the private control of capital investment so that society and the environment would be less severely affected, or b) at deprivatizing economies around the world, or c) at democratizing the political economies of all nations?
Or do progressive forces have no Grand Strategy, but rather find themselves hopelessly lost in a jungle of tactics, where each species is seeking survival within the immutable structure to which it was born?
The 6 items below offer CEIMSA readers an opportunity to distinguish tactics from strategy, to discover the motives behind class-conscious actions that seek advantage over adversity, and to analyze the consequences these actions might have on qualitative changes in their own lives.
Item A. is an article by Juan Cole, President of the Global Americana Institute, on the exclusion of Bishop Desmond Tutu from speaking at the Catholic University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis next spring.
Item B. is an article by Cindy Sheehan discussing the spiritual state of the anti-war movement in the U.S. and John Lennon's legacy.
Item C. is an article on Alan Greenspan by Stephen Lendman, suggesting that the guru of capitalism is less than objective and has amassed a huge private fortune as a result of his strategic role in class warfare in America and in other nations of the world (with the tactical help of the U.S. military and private mercenary corporations).
Item D. is an article sent by Edward Herman on the turning tide of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which is increasingly perceived in the American mainstream media as a political association in opposition to U.S. national interests.
Item E., sent to us by ZNet is an article describing the wasted opportunities of the new public relations game in Israel of manufacturing "toy soldiers," by Chris Hedges.
Item F., is a link sent to us by University of Massachusetts Professor Rick Wolff on the "melt down" of the U. S. economy.
And finally, we encourage CEIMSA readers to visit William Blum's current newsletter, in which he contrasts "counterfeit anti-Semitism" with the real thing and talks about the true motives behind this fraud :
Anti-Empire Report, October 1, 2007
Bishop Desmond Tutu has stood all his life for nonviolent peace-making and an end to racism. Obviously, he would be upset about the Israeli mistreatment of the Palestinians, and has said so.
For that stance he was uninvited from speaking at the Catholic University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.
(See also Richard Silverstein on this issue). The "quote" attributed to Bishop Tutu supposedly comparing Israel to Hitler and Nazi Germany was completely made up by the Zionist Organization of American (which has a long history of such cult-like lying and smearing) and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency printed it without fact-checking.
The Israel lobby strikes again, limiting what can be heard in public in the United States about those policies of Israel that are contrary to basic human rights norms.
And here is the kicker. UST is guilty of a whopper of a double standard. Two years ago, the university allowed Ann Coulter to speak on its campus.
Ann Coulter once said of Muslims, "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."
Coulter can speak at UST. But not Desmond Tutu.
Juan Cole is President of the Global Americana Institute
From Information Clearing House :
Date: 5 October 2007
Subject: Imagine a world with no religion.
by Stephen Lendman
After retiring as the Federal Reserve's second longest ever serving chairman, Alan Greenspan is now cashing in big late in life at age 81. He chaired the Fed's Board of Governors from the time he was appointed in August, 1987 to when he stepped down January 31, 2006 amidst a hail of ill-deserved praise for his stewardship during good and perilous times. USA Today noted "the onetime jazz band musician went out on a high note." The Wall Street Journal said "his economic legacy (rests on results) and seems secure." The Washington Post cited his "nearly mythical status."
Stanford Washington Research Group chief strategist Greg Valliere called him a "giant," and Bob Woodward called him "Maestro" in his cloying hagiography (now priced $1.99 used on Alibris and $2.19 on Amazon) that was published in 2000 as the Greenspan-built house of cards was collapsing. The book was an adoring tribute to a man he called a symbol of American economic preeminence, who the Financial Times also praised as "An Activist Unafraid to Depart From the Rule" - by taking from the public and giving to the rich.
Others joined the chorus, too, lauding his steady, disciplined hand on the monetary steering wheel, his success keeping inflation and unemployment low, and his having represented the embodiment of prosperity in compiling a record of achievement his successor will be hard-pressed to match.
In 2004, William Greider in The Nation magazine had a different view. He's the author of "Secrets of the Temple" on "how the Federal Reserve runs the country." He wrote Greenspan "ranks among the most duplicitous figures to serve in modern American government (who used) his exalted status as economic wizard (to) regularly corrupt the political dialogue by sowing outrageously false impressions among gullible members of Congress and adoring financial reporters."
They were front and center in the New York Times for the man who "steer(ed) the economy through multiple calamities and ultimately....one of the longest economic booms in history....(He earned his bona fides) weather(ing) the Black Monday stock crash of 1987 (and in 18 and a half years in office) achieved more celebrity than most rock stars" and may now approach them in earnings.
The new book of his memoirs "The Age of Turbulence" is just out for which his reported advance exceeded $8.5 million (second only to Bill Clinton's $10 for his memoirs) plus additional royalties if sales exceed 1.9 million copies. They may given the amount of high-impact publicity it and he are getting nonstop. And that's not all. He's in great demand on the lecture circuit at six figure fees, has his own consulting firm, Greenspan Associates LLC, and his lawyer, Robert Barnett says "virtually every major investment-banking firm" in the world wants to hire him for his rainmaking connections.
They have value, not his market advice, best avoided for the man who engineered the largest ever stock market bubble and bust in history through incompetence, timidity, dereliction of duty, and subservience to the capital interests he represented at the expense of the greater good and a sustained sound economy he didn't worry about nor did Wall Street.
For firms on the Street and big banks, he could do no wrong and was above reproach for letting them cash in big and then get plenty of advance warning when to exit. Most ordinary investors weren't so fortunate. They're not insiders and were caught flat-footed by advice from market pundit fraudsters and the most influential one of all in the Fed Chairman. Just weeks before the market peak in January, 2000, he claimed "the American economy was experiencing a once-in-a-century acceleration of innovation, which propelled forward productivity, output, corporate profits and stock prices at a pace not seen in generations, if ever."
It was hype and nonsense and on a par with famed economist and professor Irving Fisher's remarks just before the 1929 stock market crash and Great Depression when he claimed economic fundamentals in the country were strong, stocks undervalued, and an unending period of prosperity lay ahead. It took a world war a decade later, not market magic, for them to arrive, but before it did Fisher kept insisting in the early 1930s recovery was just around the corner. It's the same way Wall Street touts operate today on gullible investors who even after they've been had are easy prey again for the next con.
And they're really in trouble when it comes from the "Maestro," who at the height of the stock market bubble said: "Lofty equity prices have reduced the cost of capital. The result has been a veritable explosion of spending on high-tech equipment...And I see nothing to suggest that these opportunities will peter out anytime soon....Indeed many argue that the pace of innovation will continue to quicken....to exploit the still largely untapped potential for e-commerce, especially the business-to-business arena."
One week later, the Nasdaq peaked at 5048 and crashed to a low of 1114 on October 9, 2002. It lost 78% of its value, the S&P 500 stock index dropped 49%, and retail investors lost out while Greenspan was busy engineering another bubble with a tsunami of easy money for Wall Street and big investors. It's now unwinding as he gets a big payday for his memoirs and a chance to rewrite history. He aims to raise himself to sainthood and at the same time distance himself from the very costly policies he implemented on top of trillions he helped scam in the greatest modern era wealth transfer from the public to the rich. More on that below.
Greenspan's Background and Tenure as Federal Reserve Chairman
Alan Greenspan grew up in New York, got his B.A. and M.A. in economics from New York University and later was awarded a Ph.D. in economics from Columbia without completing a dissertation the degree usually requires. In a highly unusual move, Columbia made an exception in his case.
Early on, he became enamored with free market ideologue Ayn Rand, wrote for her newsletters and authored three essays for her book "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal." It expressed her views on capitalism's "moral aspects" and her attempt (with Greenspan's help) to rescue it from its "alleged champions who are responsible for the fact that capitalism is being destroyed without a hearing (or) trial, without any public knowledge of its principles, its nature, its history, or its moral meaning."
That was in 1966 when Rand, a staunch libertarian as is Greenspan, believed fundamentalist capitalism was being battered by a flood of altruism in the wake of New Deal and Great Society programs she (and Greenspan) abhorred. She defended big business, made excuses for its wars, and denounced the student rebellion at the time and the evils of altruism. Greenspan concurred, maintained a 20 year association with Rand (who died in 1982), and never looked back.
From 1948 until his 1987 Federal Reserve appointment, he served as Richard Nixon's domestic policy coordinator in his 1968 nomination campaign and later as Gerald Ford's Council of Economic Advisers Chairman. He also headed the economic consulting firm, Townsend-Greenspan & Company, from 1955 - 1987. Its forecasting record was so poor it was about to be liquidated when he left to join the Fed. A former competitor, Pierre Renfret, noted: "When Greenspan closed down his economic consulting business to (become Fed Chairman) he did so because he had no clients left and the business was going under (and we found) out he had none (of his employees left)." That made him Reagan's perfect Fed Chairman choice, and Renfret added it was Greenspan's failure in private business that got him into government service in the first place.
He wouldn't disappoint as Wall Street's man from the start. He bailed it out in 1987 after the disastrous October black Monday. It was the same way he did in it later in 1998 following Long Term Capital Management's collapse and again after the dot-com bubble burst. It was by his favorite monetary medicine guaranteed to work when taken as directed - floods of easy money followed by still more until the patient is healed, unmindful that the cure may be worse than the disease. No matter, it's a new Chairman's problem with Greenspan claiming no culpability for his 18 and a half year tenure of misdeeds, subservience to capital, and contempt for the public interest.
His new book claims the opposite. It's a breathtaking example of historical revisionism that's become standard practice for the man Sydney Morning News' Political and International Editor Peter Hartcher calls "Bubble Man" in his new book by that title. In it, he quotes Bob Woodward saying Greenspan "believed he had done all he could" to contain over-exuberance when, in fact, he let it get out of control. He now claims:
-- he didn't support George Bush's regressive tax cuts for the rich (that helped create huge budget deficits). In fact, he did, and in 2001 wholeheartedly endorsed this centerpiece of the administration's economic policy in his testimony before the Senate Budget Committee. At the time, he cited the economic slowdown saying: "Should current economic weakness spread....having a tax cut....may....do noticeable good."
-- he's "saddened (in his book) that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." In his typical obfuscating way to confuse and have things both ways, he tried clarifying his position in a September interview claiming: "I was not saying that that's the administration's motive. I'm just saying that if somebody asked me, are we fortunate in taking out Saddam? I would say it was essential." He failed to say he supported the Bush administration agenda across the board, including the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, with reasons given at the time he's now distancing himself from.
-- no responsibility for the 2000 stock market bubble. He falsely claimed he never saw it coming while providing generous amounts of liquidity to fuel it. After citing the market's "irrational exuberance" in a December, 1996 speech, he failed to curb it and could have by raising interest rates, margin requirements, and jawboning investors to cool an overheated market to restore stability for long-term economic growth. Instead, he did nothing. He failed to take away the punch bowl, created a bubble, and allowed it to burst causing investors (mostly retail ones) to lose trillions.
-- no responsibility for the housing and bond bubbles he created by cutting interest rates aggressively to 1% and flooding the markets with liquidity. As things got out of hand, timely responsible action could have avoided the summer, 2007 credit crisis. Again, he allowed a bad situation to get worse to keep the party going and allow lenders to profit hugely. In the unprecedented run-up in house prices to an $8 trillion wealth bubble, he derided critics claiming anything was wrong. He even encouraged homebuyers to take out adjustable rate mortgages, approved of very risky no down payment purchases, created the subprime mess as a consequence, and isn't around to address buyers faced with $1.2 trillion in mortgage resets later this year and next that will cause many thousands of painful foreclosures.
Affected homeowners won't likely be cheered by his speech-making bunkum that bubble level asset prices proved his monetary policies worked by getting investors to demand lower risk premiums. They also won't be calmed by his arrogant claim that it's "simply not realistic" to expect the Fed to identify and deflate asset bubbles when it's real role is to champion flexible and unregulated markets leaving everyone unprotected on our own.
-- no responsibility for allowing outstanding US debt to more than triple to around $40 trillion on his watch that one analyst calls his "most conspicuous achievement." Those having to pay it off won't thank him.
Greenspan's Role in the Greatest Modern Era Wealth Transfer from the Public to the Rich
Greenspan was a one-man wrecking crew years before he became Fed Chairman, and his earlier role likely sealed the job for him as a man the power elite could trust. He earned his stripes and then some for his role in charge of the National Commission on Social Security Reform (called the Greenspan Commission). He was appointed by Ronald Reagan to chair it in 1981 to study and recommend actions to deal with "the short-term financing crisis that Social Security faced....(with claims the) Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund would run out of money....as early as August, 1983."
There was just one problem. It was a hoax, but who'd know as the dominant media stayed silent. They let the Commission do its work that would end up transfering trillions of public dollars to the rich. It represents one of the greatest ever heists in plain sight, still ongoing and greater than ever, with no one crying foul to stop it. The Commission issued its report in January, 1983, and Congress used it as the basis for the 1983 Social Security Amendments to "resolve short-term financing problem(s) and (make) many other significant changes in Social Security law" with the public none the wiser it was a scam harming them.
The Commission recommended:
-- Social Security remain government funded and not become a voluntary program (that would have killed it);
-- $150 - 200 billion in either additional income or decreased outgo be provided the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds in calendar years 1983 - 89;
-- the actuarial imbalance for the 75 year Trust Funds valuation period of an average 1.80% of taxable payroll be resolved;
-- a "consensus package" to fix the problem by raising payroll taxes on incomes but exempting the rich beyond a maximum level taxed. Also a gradual increase in the retirement age and various other possible short and longer range options for consideration. The result today is low income earners pay more in payroll than income tax. For bottom level earners, the burden is especially onerous. They pay no income tax but aren't exempt from 6.2% of their wages going for Social Security and Medicare.
-- coverage under OASDI be extended on a mandatory, basis as of January 1, 1984, to all newly hired civilian employees of the federal government and all employees of nonprofit organizations;
-- state and local governments that elected coverage for their employees under the OASDI-HI program not be allowed to terminate it in the future;
-- the method of computing benefits be revised to exclude benefits that can accrue to individuals from non-covered OASDI employment and only be for the period when they became eligible - to eliminate "windfall" benefits;
-- 50% of OASDI benefits should henceforth be taxable as ordinary income for individuals earning $20,000 or more and married couples $25,000 or more;
-- in addition, other recommendations concerning cost of living adjustments, the law pertaining to surviving spouses who remarry after age 60, divorced spouses, disabled widows and widowers, and for scheduled payroll tax increases to move up to earlier years up to 1990 after which no further change be made with the wage base rising and is now at a level of $97,500 in 2007 at a tax rate of 6.2% matched by employers;
-- self-employed persons beginning in 1984 pay the combined employer-employee rates now at 12.4% with half considered a business expense;
-- in addition, a number of other changes recommended that in total would penalize the public to benefit the most well-off that was the whole idea of the scheme in the first place.
The public was told the Commission recommendations of 1983 were supposed to make Social Security fiscally sound for the next 75 years. They weren't told there was no problem to fix and the changes enacted were to transfer massive wealth from the public to the rich. It was one part of an overall Reagan administration scheme that included huge individual and corporate tax cuts that took place from 1981 to 1986. The rich benefitted most with top rates dropping from 70% in 1981 to 50% over three years and then to 28% in 1986 while the bottom rate actually rose from 11 to 15%.
It was the first time US income tax rates were ever reduced at the top and raised at the bottom simultaneously. But it was far worse than that. In only a few years, Reagan got enacted the largest ever US income tax cut (mostly for the rich) while instituting the greatest ever increase entirely against working Americans earning $30,000 or less.
Alan Greenspan engineered it for him by supporting income tax cuts and doubling the payroll tax to defray the revenue shortfall. He also recommended raiding the Social Security Trust Fund to offset the deficit, and who'd know the difference. His scheme helped make the US tax code hugely regressive as well as for the first time transform a pay-as-you-go retirement and disability benefits program into one where wage earner contributions subsidize the rich as well as support current beneficiaries.
As a consequence, the wealth gap widened, continued under Clinton but became unprecedented under George W. Bush with Greenspan at it again. He supported the administration's wealth transfer scheme to the rich and outsized corporate subsidies with the public getting stuck with out-of-control deficits, deep social service cuts, and a new Treasury Department report just out promising more of the same.
It claims Social Security faces a $13.6 trillion shortfall "over the indefinite future," "reforms" are needed, delaying them punishes younger workers, and the program "can be made permanently solvent only by reducing the present value of scheduled benefits and/or increasing the present value of scheduled tax increases." Translation: cut benefits deeply, raise payroll taxes, and privatize Social Security so more public wealth goes to Wall Street and big investors.
Already the top 1% owns 40% of global assets; the top 10% 85% of them; the top 1% in the US controls one-third of the nation's wealth; the bottom 80% just 15.3%; and the top 20% 84.7%. In contrast, the poorest 20% are in debt, owe more than they own, and it's getting worse.
A generation of financial manipulation devastated working Americans, but it's even worse than that. Added are the effects of globalization, automation, outsourcing, the shift from manufacturing to services, deregulation, other harmful economic factors plus weak unions just gotten far weaker in the wake of the UAW September membership sellout to General Motors. The tentative agreement reached (for members to vote on) amounted to an unconditional surrender by a corrupted leadership after a two day walkout that was likely orchestrated in advance to cause GM the least pain. If the package is approved as is likely, it will encourage other companies to offer similar deals, take it or leave it. Organized labor suffered another grievous blow, corporate giants gained, and are more empowered than ever to win out at the expense of workers' futures.
The whole scheme was kick-started under Ronald Reagan. Between his tax cuts for the rich and the Greenspan Commission's orchestrated Social Security heist, working Americans lost out in a generational wealth transfer shift now exceeding $1 trillion annually from 90 million working class households to for-profit corporations and the richest 1% of the population. It created an unprecedented wealth disparity that continues to grow, shames the nation and is destroying the bedrock middle class without which democracy can't survive.
Greenspan helped orchestrate it with economist Ravi Batra calling his economics "Greenomics" in his 2005 book "Greenspan's Fraud." It "turns out to be Greedomics" advocating anti-trust laws, regulations and social services be ended so "nothing....interfere(s) with business greed and the pursuit of profits."
It won't affect the "Maestro." He's getting by quite nicely on his six figure retirement income that's just a drop in the bucket supplementing the millions he's making as payback for the trillions he helped shift to the rich and super-rich. They take care of their own, and Greenspan is one of them.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on TheMicroEffect.com Saturdays at noon US central time.
From: Edward Herman :
Sent: October 03, 2007
Subject: Sen. Gravel Say AIPAC Is Pushing Confrontation With Iran in the U.S. Congress.
Sen. Gravel Say AIPAC Is Pushing Confrontation With Iran
by Philip Weiss
I keep declaring that the Walt and Mearsheimer is historic, that it has blasted down a wall in the American discourse. I keep getting more evidence.
The following exchange took place on the Jim Lehrer News Hour last night between presidential candidate (and former Alaska Sen.) Mike Gravel and PBS's Ray Suarez. What is most significant about this is that the question of Israel's interest versus America's interest in confronting Iran is out on the table, on public television:
RAY SUAREZ: You're 77. Why put yourself through this?
MIKE GRAVEL: I love my country, and I love the human race. And I want to see a change made in the leadership of our country so we can do more to protect the human race....With respect to my country going to war when there's no reason to go to war, killing human beings, I'm ashamed of this.
I'm ashamed of the leadership we have, whether it's Democratic leadership or Republican leadership. That's the reason why I'm in.
Look what we're trying to do with Iran right now. Last week, the Lieberman resolution -- he's the guy that wrote the resolution with Iraq and killed over 3,000 Americans and a million Iraqis. And now he comes forward with another resolution, and the leadership of the Democratic Party in the Senate doesn't even have
the brains or the judgment to recognize what he's doing. Sanctions on the Republican Guard? They already have sanctions. The U.N. passed them in March, Resolution 1747. What is the game they're playing right now to have sanctions? I mean, this was AIPAC that put Lieberman up to do this. This is disaster...
If we touch Iran and they respond, you're talking about, in the minimum, a world depression, because the oil industry will just get shut down at the Straits of Hormuz. That's the minimum.
RAY SUAREZ: You're saying that the national legislature of this country, rather than doing the will of the citizens of the United States, passed that Iran resolution, sanctioning the Republican Guard, because of the American-Israeli Political Action Committee?
MIKE GRAVEL: Wait a second. They'll be some information coming out about how this thing was drafted. So the answer is yes, the short answer.
The worst that will happen will be a nuclear exchange, and I don't think we'll ever be able to contain once they start shooting bombs at each other nuclear devices. This is what's at stake with this resolution.
And it's the height of immorality, irresponsibility, and the United States Senate, with the Democrats in charge, voted for the passage of this resolution. It doesn't get any worse than that, Ray.
from Z Magazine :
Date: 4 October 2007
Subject: Israeli Militarism.
by Chris Hedges
If you are a young Muslim American and head off to the Middle East for a spell in a fundamentalist “madrassa,” or religious school, Homeland Security will probably greet you at the airport when you return. But if you are an American Jew and you join hundreds of teenagers from Europe and Mexico for an eight-week training course run by the Israel Defense Forces, you can post your picture wearing an Israeli army uniform and holding an automatic weapon on MySpace.
The Marva program, part summer camp part indoctrination, was launched in Israel in 1981. It allows participants, who must be Jewish and between the ages of 18 and 28, to fire weapons, live in military barracks in the Negev desert and saunter around in an Israeli military uniform saluting and taking long hikes with military packs. The Youth and Education Corps of the Israel Defense Forces run four 120-strong training sessions a year.
“Upon arrival, the participants experience an abrupt change into army life: wearing uniforms, accepting army discipline, and learning the programs and lessons integral to the program,” the Let Israelis Show You Israel Web site reads. “The program includes military content such as: navigation, field training, weapons training, shooting ranges, marches and more, as well as educational content such as: Zionism, Jewish Identity, history and knowledge of the land of Israel. All of this is taught in Hebrew in an intensive eight weeks.”
"The participants finish the program after completing a short, intensive, exhilarating military experience that allows them to taste Israel in a way that they never could beforeas part of the Israel Defense Forces,” the site reads. “They leave the program with a feeling of belonging and a strong connection to Israel, and many return to Israel to continue the connection that was created in the framework of the Marva course.”
There are, of course, gushing testimonials about the program.
"I spent the first few days of Marva doubting my decision, wondering why I had come, wondering if there was any way out. With all of the running, yelling orders, discipline and Hebrew, I felt horribly out of place,” writes Canadian David Roth of his summer. “It was a completely different world from the one I was used to. All that changed, though, by the end of the first week. We had our first ‘Masa’ (Hike). It was very hard, but at the end, we all knew, our M16s were waiting for us at the ‘tekes’ (Ceremony). We got through the 8 kilometers and had our ‘tekes’ and got our guns. It felt amazing, and from that point on Marva was incredible.”
How have we reacted when we discovered that American Muslims were being taught in a foreign country to fire machine guns at paper figures and simulate military maneuvers? And what about the summer schools in Gaza organized by Islamic Jihad designed to train young Palestinians in the basics of military life? These Gaza camps, uncovered in 2001, were widely denounced by Israel as proof that the Palestinians were teaching their children to hate and kill.
The argument in favor of camps in Israel, as opposed to camps in Pakistan, is that these young men and women are not going to come back and use what they have learned to harm Americans. They are not terrorists. Muslims, however, have not cornered the market on terrorism and violence. Radical Jews have also been involved in terrorist attacks in Israel and the United States.
I discovered an American in Israel in 1989 named Robert Manning. A huge, burly man, Manning was living in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Kiyrat Arba. When I found him he was carrying a pistol, a large knife strapped to his leg and an M-16 assault rifle. He was part of a Jewish terrorist group called Committee for Protection and Safety of the Highways that set up ad hoc roadblocks and pulled Palestinians from cars to beat and often shoot them. He was a follower of Meir Kahane, the leader of the Jewish Defense League, who was implicated in terrorist attacks in the United States and Israel. Manning served as a reservist in the Israel Defense Forces in the West Bank.
Manning was wanted in California for murder. He had been charged in a 1980 mail-bomb killing as part of his involvement in the Jewish Defense League. The bomb was intended for the owner of a local computer firm, but the package holding the device was opened by the firm’s secretary, Patricia Wilkerson, who was killed instantly by the blast.
Manning, full of bluster and a bitter racism toward Arabs, used as his pseudonym the name of the FBI agent in charge of his case, a bit of humor that backfired on him by confirming my suspicion of his identify. I obtained the picture from his California driver’s license and showed it to his neighbors at Kiyrat Arba. They identified him from the photo. I wrote an article affirming that Manning, heavily armed and an active member of the Israeli army, was living in a Jewish settlement. The Israeli government, until that moment, said it had no information about his location. He was extradited in 1993 and sentenced the next year to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for 30 years. He is in a maximum-security prison in Florence, Colo.
Those who go through the Marva summer program are indoctrinated as thoroughly as Muslims who go overseas and are told they are part of a greater jihad for Islam. The results, given Israel’s close alliance with the United States, may not be negative for those in power in the United States, but it may be very negative for those Americans defined as the enemy, especially Muslims, should we suffer another 9/11. The program inculcates hatred and a belief in the efficacy of violence to solve the problems in the Middle East. It identifies Israel with militarism. It feeds the idea that a Jew born in Brooklyn has a birthright to settle in Israel that is denied to an American of Palestinian descent.
Jerusalem, aside from being one of the most beautiful cities in the world, is one of the most literate, creative and intellectual. Do these young men and women really know the best of Israel by spending eight weeks playing soldier and glorifying the military? Is the cause of Israel advanced by mirroring the twisted militarism of Islamic fundamentalists?
Terrorists arise in all cultures, all nations and all religions. We have produced more than our share. Ask the people of Vietnam or Iraq. The danger of a military program such as these is that it solidifies a mind-set of us and them. It romanticizes violence. It widens the divide that leads to conflict. It makes dialogue impossible. There are great Israeli institutions, from the newspaper Haaretz to the courageous Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem to Peace Now. A summer working for them, rather than wearing an army uniform, unleashing bursts of automatic fire in the desert and singing Israeli patriotic songs, might actually help.
from Rick Wolff :
Date: 6 October 2007
Subject: Economic melt down in the United States.
Max’s latest on the Ariana Huffington blog is about the further and deeper splitting of the US into two economic nations………
I think you will find it interesting…………