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Rachel Corrie: Looking Back and Moving Forward

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March 16 is always a good time to remember Rachel Corrie. This year she would be approaching 41, undoubtedly in the prime of a meaningful career. In fact, any day would be good to remember Rachel – Land Day, UN Children Day, Nakba Day, Human Rights Day, or her April birthday.

It’s worth remembering the Palestinian activists – health, unhealthy, dead, and alive – who have, and who are, fighting for Palestinian rights and for human rights.

It is also worth remembering, now and at other times, Tom Hurdal, and Jo Cox, as well as Heather Heyer. These are just some of the familiar white activist deaths that make it in to Western media. So many of these stories are forgotten as another event occurs.

Rachel’s story has never been forgotten and it has inspired communities across the globe in the past, in the present, and it surely will in the future.

On this day let’s look back and look forward. Look back at the work we’ve been inspired to do, and forward at the fact that we’ve been inspired to continue this work.

As a full disclosure, I am on the policy committee for the Rachel Corrie Foundation to Peace and Justice. I wrote this for myself, to share with the Foundation, to be shared at the annual March 16 pot luck in celebration of Rachel’s life. The event isn’t happening this year.

Post-Grad education: Refugees

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In an effort to avoid the path of least resistance I have returned to school, ideally taking five classes this year that focus on human rights. The first class, which has recently commenced, is on Forced Migration and Human Rights.

I feel that it’s a good idea to share one paragraph quote with you, during which I hope we remember that the current U.S. administration an a lot of people that support it do not like the United Nations and international cooperation in general.

This comes from the 2018 Global compact on refugees (pdf), in a Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:

against this background, the global compact complements ongoing United Nations endeavours in the areas of prevention, peace, security, sustainable development, migration and peacebuilding. All States and relevant stakeholders are called on to tackle the root causes of large refugee situations, including through heightened international efforts to prevent and resolve conflict; to uphold the Charter of the United Nations, international law, including international humanitarian law, as well as the rule of law at the national and international levels; to promote, respect, protect and fulfil human rights and fundamental freedoms for all; and to end exploitation and abuse, as well as discrimination of any kind on the basis of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, disability, age, or other status. The international community as a whole is also called on to support efforts to alleviate poverty, reduce disaster risks, and provide development assistance to countries of origin, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other relevant frameworks.

Despite the unsuccessful endevours of the U.N. consider just how the current administration views refugees and any attempt – all good ideas listed by the U.N – to mitigate any refugee crisis.

Choices

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There are always choices in politics, as there is in life. You can vote for things stay the same (status quo), to get regress (conservative), or to make an effort to change for the better (progressive).

Now really, if things stay the same they never improve and therefore they eventually become regressive.

Conservative politics regresses farther than status quo politics. Not only is it not content with the current state of affairs, but conservatism try to revert the politics body to some antiquated – and fictional – past in which everyone fights for themselves and everyone -mainly the rich – are content.

Then the questions arises: do we regress back forty years, or one hundred? Which golden age of inequality do we which to emulate? Is it inequality of wealthy, or inequality of wealth and of civil rights?

Choices.

If we choose progress, is it incremental, or deep structural change? Who, besides people who promote inequality of wealth and of civil rights, benefits from incremental change. Incremental progress merely creates a new regressive status quo.

Progress – real progress – ensures that everyone has rights, and that everyone’s well-being is accounted for.

Choices.

The Origins of Totalitarianism

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I recently went on vacation, and my reading choice was Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism (a natural choice for reading while on vacation). I haven’t finished, and although it is true that the United States – even three years after this article Totalitarianism in the Age of Trump: Lessons from Hannah Arendt – we are not totalitarian it is also true the totalitarianism can appear in any country.

Here’s a brief quote from the paperback edition of copyright1968:

Totalitarian movements are mass organizations of atomized, isolated individuals. Compared with all other parties and movements , their most conspicuous eternal characteristic is their demand from total, unrestricted , unconditional, and unalterable loyalty of the individual member.

Knowing that we are not a totalitarian country, try to not join a movement that demands unconditional loyalty, and we might never be totalitarian.

Open Letter to Erica Green

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I intended to send this message by email, although I may still have posted it here for the world to see. However, a search for how to contact Erica Green produces only places like LinkedIn. The article to which I want to respond, “Wider Definition of Judaism Is Likely to Aid Crackdown on Colleges” lists no way to contact you and is behind paywall.

In this syndicated article you suggested that most Jewish organizations are in favor of defining Judaism as more than a religion. The administration’s most recently executive order would, as you pointed out, would define Judaism as a race or a group of national origin. You did not mention that the Nazis of the Third Reich used this same definition to describe Jews. Nor did you include any viewpoint of any Jewish organization not vested in maintaining the brutal status quo in Israel.

The goal of the executive order, the administration tells us, is to combat anti-semitism. Especially anti-semitism on college campuses; thank you for providing a brief overview there and pointing out that this would cause ‘enormous confusion’ on college campuses. Although you failed to question any Jewish organization other than the conservative Zionist Organization of America, which you pointed out that Kenneth L. Marcus (the head of the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, who has been pushing for this kind of legislation or order for years), as an investigator reporter you also failed to say where the definition of anti-semitism originates from.

Your bio on the New York Times article – which again, contains no contact information – mentions that you’re an investigative journalist. You can easily find out that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) promoted the definition of anti-semitism that the administration has instructed the Department of Education to now implement, and also find out that the IHRA has used the same definition against human rights activists in Britain.

Essentially, you took no time to investigate what you’re writing about . As a person that concerns me. As an American that concerns me. As a Jew who reads your writing about anti-semitism, that concerns me.

CommonDream’s Headline: US Navy Places $22 Billion Cyber Monday Order for Nuclear Submarines, But Who Is Asking How We Gonna Pay For It?

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For those of you keeping score at home, more weapons do not make us safer. Our insecurity increases when we add in nuclear weapons, or submarines powered by nuclear reaction.

How we’re going to pay for this is a great question. Why we’re paying for this is just as an important a question. And who’s making money off this?

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month

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On a day that should have ended the war to end all wars “early on November 11th [1918], the Germans met the Allies near Paris to sign an Armistice ending the fighting. The agreement set 11:00am Paris time as the moment the truce would begin – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.”

But, as the World War I Centennial Commission adds:

The fighting continued until the last possible moment. As a result, there were 10,944 casualties, including 2,738 deaths, on the war’s last day. Most occurred within a period of three hours. The last soldier to be killed in World War I was Henry Gunther, an American of German descent, who was killed just sixty seconds before the guns fell silent.

The agreement between the armies to stop fighting – the armistice – lasted long enough to sign the Treaty of Versailles.

It sounds like a great excuse to have a three day weekend, but in reality what happened was A Peace to End All Peace.