Make A Sign

by Michael W. Stowell

April 22, 2002


The Zionists are overacting and the Arabs won't co-operate; Bin Laden has disappeared and Hussein has reappeared; Chávez is a hero and a friend of Fidel; Enron has popped and Ralph Nader was right; North Korea meets with South Korea while India and Pakistan continue to fight; George Dubya gets spookier each day and Al Gore just shaved. It's difficult to decide what kind of sign I should make for the peace and justice rally this week.

JUSTICE FOR PALESTINE (I've always liked signs that say justice more than signs that say peace.)

Front and center in Bush's parade is still the 'war on terrorism' and it's no surprise that Ariel Sharon has taken up that banner to justify the terrorism he continues to wage and provoke in Palestine. Reporters there have been shot at, killed and otherwise kept out of Jenin and other concentration camps on the West Bank. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called for inquiries and the European Union's external relations commissioner, Chris Patten, stated that Israel must accept a UN investigation of alleged atrocities against Palestinians or face 'colossal damage' to its reputation.

Israel's reputation is not all that's at stake.

Indeed, witnesses have described people being shot as they surrendered; houses being bulldozed with people inside; the use of human shields; the burial of 32 bodies in a trench, and one case of Israeli soldiers turning on the household gas supply before tossing a stun grenade into a room full of people. If it is proven that war crimes were committed by the Israeli military, the 'Arab world' will be even more furious and all hope of justice and reconciliation will disappear. Even Mr. Goodcop, Colin Powell, was unable to fabricate any semblance of appeasement and the Bush administration may now have a more difficult time justifying any additional illegal aid to the Zionists.

(I say illegal because the U.S. is a signatory nation to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which stipulates that no signatory nation may give aid to any non-signatory nation that possesses nuclear weapons, and, of course, Israel has not signed the treaty and is in possession of upwards of three hundred nukes.)

Which could be bad news for U.S. weapons contractors, who are, in the end, the benefactors of most U.S. foreign aid. Last I heard, about 40% of all U.S. foreign aid is given to Israel but most of that is cycled back to U.S. weapons contractors and western banks to which Israel is indebted for past weapons procurement. Bush may have to increase the Pentagon's budget again to make up for any lost revenue suffered by his supporters in transnational-corporate/military America.

Saddam Hussein has been making noises like he's going to cut off oil production and, if things don't get better for the Palestinians soon, he may not be the only one. Most of the 'Arab world' is already infuriated with the situation in Palestine, with Bush's impotence and/or 'wickedness', and with the poverty, death and disease inflicted upon the people of Iraq by U.S.-enforced sanctions (that quiet weapon of mass destruction). The saber rattling in Baghdad is likely to aggravate Bush and he'll prioritize the planned reinvasion, and slide deeper into the Middle East quicksand.

Bush's immediate response to Hussein's threat was a predictable 'I told ya so -- we should have started drilling in the Alaskan wilderness long ago!' He didn't say anything about nuclear reactors but don't be deceived, he will when he thinks the time is right. The Senate Democrats aren't willing to kowtow on Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling because "oil companies already have access to vast areas of Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico." This means that investigations into Bush/Cheney's energy policies will continue and will, with fuel from the Enron thievery, turn up the heat on D.C.'s domestic pressure cooker.

Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah will be visiting Bush's Texas ranch next week and they'll take center stage in the American corporate press while Israel's war crimes are being documented. The prince is one of the most repressive dictators in the world so he and Bush will have a lot in common, but they'll not create any hope for justice and peace. Syrian Baath Party official Suleiman Kaddah summed up the Arab consensus, "The Israeli war of extermination is completely supported and encouraged by the United States; the Israeli occupation is the height of terrorism." The Abdullah/Bush meeting will frustrate and agitate Arab leaders and the 'grassroots' dissenters in Saudi Arabia; however, Bush may be able to squeeze a little more oil out of the meeting.

Much will be made of the capture on Monday last of one of the most wanted leaders of the Palestinian Intifada. Marwan Barghouti is Secretary General of Fatah's military wing in the West Bank, a close aide to Yasser Arafat, and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Israel will continue to claim that he is the prime suspect in the Palestinians' terrorist campaign. CNN, MSNBC, FOX, et al., will pick up this line and sell it as justification for all the 'collateral damage' incurred in Israel's 'war on terrorism'.

The only glimmer of hope I saw in this latest episode came with the international 'peace and justice activists' who paraded down the street, right in front of the Israeli tanks, stopped in to see Yasser Arafat in his besieged compound, and refused to leave. They probably saved his life and all of us from even more atrocities. It will take much more of that kind of action to bring this situation to a justifiable peace.

CIA OUT OF VENEZUELA (I used to have a sign that said "CIA Out of Nicaragua.")

Last week's 'activist' parade in Venezuela was just as surprising as the Palestinian parade and delightfully effective. Hundreds of thousands of people hit the streets in Caracas and throughout the countryside to demand (let me say that word, again; DEMAND) the return of their duly elected leader, Hugo Chávez. What an impressive show of solidarity and strength of character by the people of Venezuela.

Not surprising is the revelation that Big Oil's Bushwhackers are busy trying to avenge the Iran/Contra scandal and secure a firm grip on the politics and oil in Venezuela. Watch President Chávez uncover the CIA and Ft. Benning connections to the chagrin of Papa Bush and his old cronies. The role of the media, described by Chávez as "psychological terrorism," has become one of the most heated points of debate in the aftermath of Venezuela's political upheaval. Chávez has accused parts of the media of helping engineer his overthrow and they admit that they intensely covered Chávez's fall but largely failed to give enough attention to the street protests that helped restore him to power two days later. Imagine that; the media.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EAST TIMOR (I like happy signs whenever appropriate.)

The U.S. media didn't make much of it, but last Wednesday it was announced that independence hero and former guerrilla leader Xanana Gusmao won a landslide victory in East Timor's first presidential election, 82.69 percent of the vote. The real birthday will come when the United Nations hands over administration to the new government next month but this is so much justice I don't know if I can wait.

As you probably know, East Timor was once a Portuguese colony and was invaded and taken over by Indonesia in 1975. Hundreds of thousands of East Timorese were murdered by the occupying military and justice will not be served until they are punished and reparations are made. I'll not celebrate with the people of East Timor until those leaders are brought to justice and the American government admits to its involvement and support of that horrendous crime.

But I will gladly hold up that sign.

We have a peace and justice demonstration in Arcata every Friday afternoon/evening at the plaza in the center of town. There were only a few of us when we started the weekly rally a few months ago, but now there are more than 150 people there each week. It's a great way to connect, with your neighbors far and wide, and with yourself. Try it. Make a sign.


Michael W. Stowell is chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Arcata Library in Arcata, CA. He is the producer/editor/videographer of numerous public access television programs; he is a naturalist, a gardener, a bicyclist and a Swans' columnist.


Please, DO NOT steal, scavenge or repost this work on the Web without the expressed written authorization of Swans, which will seek permission from the author. This material is copyrighted, © Michael W. Stowell 2002. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.


This Week's Internal Links

SCENES OF WAR, A Glimpse Behind The Curtain Of Silence - by Gregory Elich

Orwellian Inversion, Or Just Another Day At The New York Times? - by Stephen Gowans

Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering, Pinky? - by Deck Deckert

Democracy Ver. 7.2 - by Lance Bauscher

The Immigrant Nation (Part II): Around My Heart - by Alma Hromic

The American "Dream" - by Stevan Konstantinovic

A Whispered Light - Poem by Sandy Lulay

War Is Peace - by George Orwell (Book Excerpt)


Michael Stowell on Swans

Essays published in 2002 | 2001

Barbarians of Our Own Dark Ages? Debunking the Myth Behind the Nuclear Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (December 2000)


Published April 22, 2002
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