Readings, late July 2016

Helena Cobban Antiwar, Blog, Jewish-American Affairs, Palestine, Readings, U.S. politics, Vietnam War

This selection of readings from the past week takes us, first, back to the US-Vietnam War and the way it gets remembered in the United States today… then, to the way some Americans (including lawmakers) view the prospect of new “Big Power” war today. Then, for this post- party convention season, we look at solid commentary on how both major U.S. parties have backslid on Palestinian issues, and note an inspiring interview with Bernie Sanders’ former National Jewish Outreach Coordinator, Simone Zimmerman

Remembering the Vietnam War

On July 26, the New York Times had an interesting article noting that many peace activists, including Peace Studies scholar David Cortright, have been agitating to have the Pentagon put a much more realistic account of the events of the U.S. war in Vietnam onto the big website it is building to mark the war’s upcoming 50th anniversary.

Money quote:

“It’s not a lie, but it’s disingenuous,” Marilyn B. Young, a professor of history at New York University, said while reading an entry about the My Lai massacre. “That’s the way propaganda works. It has to tell some truth to be believed.”

Prof. Young is one of several experts on the Vietnam War era who gave a rave review to Just World Books’s recent anthology The People Make the Peace: Lessons from the Vietnam Antiwar Movement. She said the book, “will be of interest to all who cherish peace and work towards achieving it.”

A rush to the next war?

David Swanson recently published a revealing interview with Elizabeth Murray, a longtime U.S. intelligence officer who is now a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). Murray had recently been on a fact-finding visit to Russia with a citizen group. On returning, she went to share her findings with Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee. Murray was startled by the ignorance he displayed about recent U.S. policies affecting Russia.

Money quote:

Larsen immediately responded with rebuttals [to what I’d told him], stating flat-out he didn’t believe there was a U.S. role in the Ukrainian events — that what I’d just told him was ‘not what I’ve been hearing’ – and he went on to talk about how the Baltic states felt threatened by Russia, etc. He didn’t know what ‘Operation Anakonda’ was and seemed unaware that the largest-ever NATO military maneuvers since WWII had just taken place on Russia’s borders. I offered to send his office additional information about that and the Ukrainian events – an offer he ignored.

Two U.S. parties’ backsliding on Palestine

Sam Bahour and Geoffrey Lewis recently published an op-ed in the Forward in which they noted that the recently published platforms of both major U.S. parties have “gone backward” in terms of recognizing Palestinian rights.

Money quote:

“We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier,” the [GOP’s] platform’s language on Israel… reads. “Support for Israel is an expression of Americanism, and it is the responsibility of our government to advance policies that reflect Americans’ strong desire for a relationship with no daylight between America and Israel.”

The Democrats did not do much better. CNN reported on July 10 that “Hillary Clinton supporters rejected an effort Saturday to add an amendment to the Democratic platform which would call for ‘an end to occupations and illegal settlements’ in Palestinian territories.”

By the way, what Bahour and Lewis called for, in the absence of any hope of speedy party (i.e. Congressional) support for momentum on the Palestine issue, was for Pres. Obama to take executive action and recognize the Palestinian state.

U.S. Jewish ferment reaching political campaigns (at least, one of them)

Meanwhile, the ferment over Israel among younger Jewish Americans has continued; and this year it reach deep into the Bernie Sanders campaign (and into the Democrats’ platform-writing committee. Isaac Luria has a lovely piece on the “+972” website that’s the first interview to be conducted with young Jewish rights activist Simone Zimmerman since she was unceremoniously suspended last April from the Sanders campaign, for having posted an expletive about PM Netanyahu on her Facebook page.

Money quote:

It was a really interesting moment being in the office with lots of people who do anti-establishment work on all these other issues. They get push-back, too, but I don’t think anybody understood the kind of vitriol that was going to come from the Jewish establishment on this issue — the way the Jewish establishment pounces on youth who dare to say something different than the lines that they’ve been trying to feed us for all these years.

Zimmerman did also talk about how bittersweet it was, that very same night she was fired, to hear Sen. Sanders be the first candidate in a major U.S. party for many years to stand up and say Palestinians should be treated with dignity and respect…