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The Euston Manifesto - Taking Back the Dream

04/17/2006

Remember the song?

Last night I had the strangest dream,
I never dreamed before.
I dreamed the world had all agreed
to put an end to war.

All progressive people around the world, all decent people, were united by the dream, which was much more than putting an end to war. It was putting an end to famine and hunger and want, putting an end to fear and hate, providing decent lives and clean environments and democratic governments and much more.

The dream was hijacked over and over and turned into a nightmare. First Stalin and Mao killed millions and led millions of others, people with the best intentions, astray. With the end of the cold war, the dream was hijacked by an unlikely coalition of fanatic leftist ideologues, reactionary Islamists, national liberation charlatans, political gangsters and their apologists.

It seemed that we were increasingly offered a choice of bad alternatives. We could chose between the injustice represented by George Bush, the National Review and their cohorts, the insane rhetoric of genocidal apologists for terror and the Saddamites, and the inane vacuity of "fluffy bunny" groups that offered compassion in place of common sense and ethics to serve a perverted concept of "justice," and found themselves excusing the acts of suicide bombers and lunatics. The United Nations, once the hope of humanity, entrusted the monitoring of human rights abuses to Libya, and is virtually powerless to stop the agony of Darfur.

If you are like me, you felt like a political orphan, and if you are like me you should know that there is cause for hope. The Euston Manifesto seems like it was made for us, by people like us. The preamble of their foundation document reads in part:


We are democrats and progressives. We propose here a fresh political alignment. Many of us belong to the Left, but the principles that we set out are not exclusive. We reach out, rather, beyond the sodeletedt Left towards egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment. Indeed, the reconfiguration of progressive opinion that we aim for involves drawing a line between the forces of the Left that remain true to its authentic values, and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible about these values. It involves making common cause with genuine democrats, whether sodeletedt or not.

The present initiative has its roots in and has found a constituency through the Internet, especially the "blogosphere". It is our perception, however, that this constituency is under-represented elsewhere — in much of the media and the other forums of contemporary political life

It gets better:


1) For democracy.
We are committed to democratic norms, procedures and structures — freedom of opinion and assembly, free elections, the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers, and the separation of state and religion. We value the traditions and institutions, the legacy of good governance, of those countries in which liberal, pluralist democracies have taken hold.

2) No apology for tyranny.
We decline to make excuses for, to indulgently "understand", reactionary regimes and movements for which democracy is a hated enemy — regimes that oppress their own peoples and movements that aspire to do so. We draw a firm line between ourselves and those left-liberal voices today quick to offer an apologetic explanation for such political forces.

3) Human rights for all.
We hold the fundamental human rights codified in the Universal Declaration to be precisely universal, and binding on all states and political movements, indeed on everyone. Violations of these rights are equally to be condemned whoever is responsible for them and regardless of cultural context. We reject the double standards with which much self-proclaimed progressive opinion now operates, finding lesser (though all too real) violations of human rights which are closer to home, or are the responsibility of certain disfavoured governments, more deplorable than other violations that are flagrantly worse. We reject, also, the cultural relativist view according to which these basic human rights are not appropriate for certain nations or peoples.

4) Equality.
We espouse a generally egalitarian politics. We look towards progress in relations between the sexes (until full gender equality is achieved), between different ethnic communities, between those of various religious affiliations and those of none, and between people of diverse sexual orientations — as well as towards broader social and economic equality all round. We leave open, as something on which there are differences of viewpoint amongst us, the question of the best economic forms of this broader equality, but we support the interests of working people everywhere and their right to organize in defence of those interests. Democratic trade unions are the bedrock organizations for the defence of workers' interests and are one of the most important forces for human rights, democracy-promotion and egalitarian internationalism. Labour rights are human rights. The universal adoption of the International Labour Organization Conventions — now routinely ignored by governments across the globe — is a priority for us. We are committed to the defence of the rights of children, and to protecting people from sexual slavery and all forms of institutionalized abuse.


5) Development for freedom.
We stand for global economic development-as-freedom and against structural economic oppression and environmental degradation. The current expansion of global markets and free trade must not be allowed to serve the narrow interests of a small corporate elite in the developed world and their associates in developing countries. The benefits of large-scale development through the expansion of global trade ought to be distributed as widely as possible in order to serve the social and economic interests of workers, farmers and consumers in all countries. Globalization must mean global social integration and a commitment to social justice. We support radical reform of the major institutions of global economic governance (World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Bank) to achieve these goals, and we support fair trade, more aid, debt cancellation and the campaign to Make Poverty History. Development can bring growth in life-expectancy and in the enjoyment of life, easing burdensome labour and shortening the working day. It can bring freedom to youth, possibilities of exploration to those of middle years, and security to old age. It enlarges horizons and the opportunities for travel, and helps make strangers into friends. Global development must be pursued in a manner consistent with environmentally sustainable growth.

6) Opposing anti-Americanism.
We reject without qualification the anti-Americanism now infecting so much left-liberal (and some conservative) thinking. This is not a case of seeing the US as a model society. We are aware of its problems and failings. But these are shared in some degree with all of the developed world. The United States of America is a great country and nation. It is the home of a strong democracy with a noble tradition behind it and lasting constitutional and social achievements to its name. Its peoples have produced a vibrant culture that is the pleasure, the source-book and the envy of millions. That US foreign policy has often opposed progressive movements and governments and supported regressive and authoritarian ones does not justify generalized prejudice against either the country or its people.

7) For a two-state solution.
We recognize the right of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to self-determination within the framework of a two-state solution. There can be no reasonable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that subordinates or eliminates the legitimate rights and interests of one of the sides to the dispute.

8) Against racism.
For liberals and the Left, anti-racism is axiomatic. We oppose every form of racist prejudice and behaviour: the anti-immigrant racism of the far Right; tribal and inter-ethnic racism; racism against people from Muslim countries and those descended from them, particularly under cover of the War on Terror. The recent resurgence of another, very old form of racism, anti-Semitism, is not yet properly acknowledged in left and liberal circles. Some exploit the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people under occupation by Israel, and conceal prejudice against the Jewish people behind the formula of "anti-Zionism". We oppose this type of racism too, as should go without saying.

9) United against terror.
We are opposed to all forms of terrorism. The deliberate targeting of civilians is a crime under international law and all recognized codes of warfare, and it cannot be justified by the argument that it is done in a cause that is just. Terrorism inspired by Islamist ideology is widespread today. It threatens democratic values and the lives and freedoms of people in many countries. This does not justify prejudice against Muslims, who are its main victims, and amongst whom are to be found some of its most courageous opponents. But, like all terrorism, it is a menace that has to be fought, and not excused.

10) A new internationalism.
We stand for an internationalist politics and the reform of international law — in the interests of global democratization and global development. Humanitarian intervention, when necessary, is not a matter of disregarding sovereignty, but of lodging this properly within the "common life" of all peoples. If in some minimal sense a state protects the common life of its people (if it does not torture, murder and slaughter its own civilians, and meets their most basic needs of life), then its sovereignty is to be respected. But if the state itself violates this common life in appalling ways, its claim to sovereignty is forfeited and there is a duty upon the international community of intervention and rescue. Once a threshold of inhumanity has been crossed, there is a "responsibility to protect".

11) A critical openness.
Drawing the lesson of the disastrous history of left apologetics over the crimes of Stalinism and Maoism, as well as more recent exercises in the same vein (some of the reaction to the crimes of 9/11, the excuse-making for suicide-terrorism, the disgraceful alliances lately set up inside the "anti-war" movement with illiberal theocrats), we reject the notion that there are no opponents on the Left. We reject, similarly, the idea that there can be no opening to ideas and individuals to our right. Leftists who make common cause with, or excuses for, anti-democratic forces should be criticized in clear and forthright terms. Conversely, we pay attention to liberal and conservative voices and ideas if they contribute to strengthening democratic norms and practices and to the battle for human progress.

12) Historical truth.
In connecting to the original humanistic impulses of the movement for human progress, we emphasize the duty which genuine democrats must have to respect for the historical truth. Not only fascists, Holocaust-deniers and the like have tried to obscure the historical record. One of the tragedies of the Left is that its own reputation was massively compromised in this regard by the international Communist movement, and some have still not learned that lesson. Political honesty and straightforwardness are a primary obligation for us.

13) Freedom of ideas.
We uphold the traditional liberal freedom of ideas. It is more than ever necessary today to affirm that, within the usual constraints against defamation, libel and incitement to violence, people must be at liberty to criticize ideas — even whole bodies of ideas — to which others are committed...

Go there, read the whole manifesto and sign it, even if you only agree with 90%. I think we all want to be a part of this. For people who live in the Middle East, the principles represented in the Euston Manifesto are the only way out of the jungle, if only the principles will be implemented. In the worst case, it will turn out to be another part of the dream gone bad. It might be the real thing for once.

Ami Isseroff

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Replies: 29 comments

Very good, Ami. Very good.

This may be the best and most succinctly complete commentary on the manifesto I have yet read. Beautifully put, and indeed it harkens the times when we used to say `What we we wish for ourselves, we want for all.' Every bit as heartening, too.

The lyric is from I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill, yes? Your introductory remarks remind of that other lyric, from The World Turned Upside Down, ` `Tear down their cottages, destroy their corn'; We were dispersed but still the vision lingers on. . . All things in common. All people, one.'

Puts a spring in my step altogether.

In affection and solidarity, from a fellow `Eustonite,'

Terry Glavin

Posted by Terry Glavin @ 04/18/2006 12:24 AM CST

No, this one is words and music by Ed McCurdy.
The other one starts with:
"I dreamt I saw Joe Hill last night, alive as you and me"

Another sympathizer,
Wouter, from the Netherlands

Posted by Wouter Brasse @ 04/18/2006 12:59 AM CST

I don't agree with point number 12. Having respect for truth is a good thing but not being able to question history only leads to blind faith or forced acceptance what is told by the powers that be.

Posted by Butros Dahu @ 04/18/2006 11:31 PM CST

Questioning history to find the truth is one thing, questioning history in order to makeup a prefered history is another. I think it is clear that 12 supports the first and rejects the second.

The biggest problem I have with this manifesto is that it feels as if it was tailor made to deal with the concerns of Jews. This might cause it to be discredited. The support for the two state solution should be based on a wider principle of respect on the one hand of the right of self-determination of different groups (national, religious, regional) on the one hand, and peace and cooperation on the other. Violent nationalism should be rejected on the one hand, but so should the people who use terms like multi-culturalism and internationalism and secularism in order to hide their disregard to collective identities that are not compatible with their wishes.

Posted by Micha @ 04/19/2006 04:49 AM CST

Hi,
Some replies:
Lyric is NOT Joe Hill, which is completely different:
JOE Hill:

Lyrics: Alfred Hayes
Music: Earl Robinson.

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
Alive as you and me.
Says I "But Joe, you're ten years dead"
"I never died" said he,
"I never died" said he.
"In Salt Lake, Joe," says I to him,
him standing by my bed,
"They framed you on a murder charge,"
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead,"
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead."
"The Copper Bosses killed you Joe,
they shot you Joe" says I.
"Takes more than guns to kill a man"
Says Joe "I didn't die"
Says Joe "I didn't die"
And standing there as big as life
and smiling with his eyes.
Says Joe "What they can never kill
went on to organize,
went on to organize"
From San Diego up to Maine,
in every mine and mill,
where working-men defend their rights,
it's there you find Joe Hill,
it's there you find Joe Hill!
I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
alive as you and me.
Says I "But Joe, you're ten years dead"
"I never died" said he,
"I never died" said he.
----
Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream
words and music by Ed McCurdy

Last night I had the strangest dream
I'd ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war

I dreamed I saw a mighty room
Filled with women and men
And the paper they were signing said
They'd never fight again

And when the paper was all signed
And a million copies made
They all joined hands and bowed their heads
And grateful pray'rs were prayed

And the people in the streets below
Were dancing 'round and 'round
While swords and guns and uniforms
Were scattered on the ground

Last night I had the strangest dream
I'd never dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war.
----
That sort of thing is important to folks like us. Remember the Spanish Civil War? The bad guys won the war, but we had all the good songs.
---
Micha's point about "Jewish Manifesto" - some of it addresses Jewish concerns, but the part about Israel and the two state solution is frankly unsatisfactory. Who are the "Israeli people" as opposed to the Jewish people? Why does this document grant Self determination to the "Israeli people" - a doubtful entity, rather than to the Jewish people??? I would like to see a general statement about self determination too, but too many of the people who are for self-determination in every corner of the world, are against self-determination for the Jewish people. Therefore, there has to be a special point about this issue.

The points about Iraq and terror and many other issues have very little to do with Jews.

Cheers,
Ami

Posted by Ami Isseroff @ 04/19/2006 11:22 PM CST

Hello again. I have read most of the article that Ami Isseroff has written about the Euston Manifesto. However, by going to the site I decided to check out a couple of the blog links on the site. I only went to two of them, however, I found some of the most ANTI MUSLIM and ANTI ARAB comments that I have ever read. I hear of the anti Israel and even read some of the sites, but nothing on the so called anti Israel sites come close to what these ANTI ARAB and ANTI ISLAM write on the blogs. So I came back to this site and wondered why the Euston Manifesto site would put these racisit blog links on their site when you have as number 8 above the following: 8) Against racism.
For liberals and the Left, anti-racism is axiomatic. We oppose every form of racist prejudice and behaviour: the anti-immigrant racism of the far Right; tribal and inter-ethnic racism; racism against people from Muslim countries and those descended from them, particularly under cover of the War on Terror. The recent resurgence of another, very old form of racism, anti-Semitism, is not yet properly acknowledged in left and liberal circles. Some exploit the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people under occupation by Israel, and conceal prejudice against the Jewish people behind the formula of "anti-Zionism". We oppose this type of racism too, as should go without saying.

Posted by Mike Jebara @ 04/22/2006 08:43 PM CST

Its about time the world woke up to the reality of the (fundamentalist) Islamic threat. For its this fundamentalism that truly threatens the muslim world. It threatens to turn it into a hated and reviled culture.

Islam itself must enter the fray and stop the cancer from within

http://mrjewish.blogspot.com/

Posted by Mr Jewish @ 04/24/2006 12:45 PM CST

Dear Mr Jewish. You claim the land of Palestine was given by god to the jews some 4000 years ago " I read it on your blog". So what does god say you should do with the people who have lived there for many hundreds of years? Does god say ship them to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and other places in the world. The jews were displaced, no one can argue with that fact. The jews were killed by Hitler, very few can argue with that fact. So what have you done to the Palestinians????. Can you see similarities???
You want the muslims to leave you alone, yet before the 1850's there were very few problems between muslims and jews. You take out your frustrations against the people who did very little harm if any to the jews. Your main killers were not the muslims, so if you want to talk great. Arabs and muslims are always willing to talk but when you want to dictate to us then that's not talking. Talk, yes, about the hundreds of years of living in peace in Palestine. Talk, yes, about the fact the Israel is still occupying arab lands. Talk, yes, about the fact the the arabs offered Israel a full peace deal that the jewish state refuses. You and others on this site will talk about the right of return for the Palestinians is the end of the jewish state. You talk about the small piece of land, yet it seems to have room for many thousands of jews who have not had anything to do with the middle east for centuries. These jews have a home in Israel anytime they want. Palestinian refugees living in countries other than Palestine, have no home to go to. Is that fair and does god say it's ok for jews to displace others??? Does god say that the jewish state must assasinate and distroy many thousands of homes and kill thousands of innocent people in order for Israel to keep control over arabs????
Talk, yes. It would be nice to talk. But not tell us and force us to accept things that no one can accept. The arabs, ALL ARABS, offered full peace to Israel and all what the arabs asked for was the reurn to the 1967 borders. That's ALL. They did not ask for the jews to be thrown in the sea. They did not ask them to move to New York. They did not ask them to move to London. They did not ask them to move to Berlin. They ask for the MINIMUM that the arabs can live with. Yet Israel refuses. As to (fundamentalist), the state of Israel and the US blind support for Israel are creating many many people who are not convinced of what you Mr Jewish say about wanting to live in peace. The facts prove that some jews want the middle east to be a fighting ground for many many years to come. Try and convince the Israeli government to accept the 1967 border, and you and muslims will be rid of many problems facing us all these days. Also, you forgot about jewish (fundamentalist). All you need to do is visit a few of the blogs to see the other side of the coin.

Posted by Mike Jebara @ 04/24/2006 08:06 PM CST

And about your statement "Islam itself must enter the fray and stop the cancer from within" I guess you may have heard wrong. Many millions of people say that " Israel is the cancer in the middle east". These types of comments don't help muslims or jews. I hope people, especially in the middle east would stop using these terms.

Posted by Mike Jebara @ 04/24/2006 08:21 PM CST

Mike, can you give the details of the anti-Arab blogs you mentioned. I couldn't find them.

Posted by Micha @ 04/25/2006 04:41 PM CST

Mike,
I must take you to task on a number of your points. Since I presume you must be only versed in what the western (arab appeasing) media portray and the 'slightly' untrue words that arab leaders let go from their lips.

Please explain this apparant peace treaty that ALL arabs offered israel. For as far as documented records this is simply untrue. As it happens the very UN charter that created the State of Israel was rejected by the arabs (lets call them arabs since at the time the word 'palestinians' referred to the jews that lived on the land). And ever since the arabs have refused to accept any truce with israel.

You talk of the only demand being return to 67 borders.. !! hhmm what about the wars that were raged against israel before 67, what were they about. And lets be frank, Ehud Barak in 2000 offered arafat this return to 67 borders and what did he do..? he waged the bloddy intifada that still takes innocent lives (on both sides).

No, the key here is the underlying demand of 'right of return' which israel will never accept since due to birth rates it would leave the jews a minority in their own democratic land which would within one election become Hamastan !!

And while i'm on the topic of israel democracy... i presume you know that 10% of the israeli government is Arab ?! Are they unhappily occupied ? are they oppressed and downtrodden ? Nope, i dont think so.

Posted by Mr Jewish @ 04/27/2006 10:40 AM CST

Mr. Jewish. I'm Jewish and Israeli, and I will answer your questions.

It is true that in 1948 no Arab government was willing to make peace with Israel. This began changing in the 1970's. Egypt and Jordan have signed peace treaties with Israel, other arab goverments like Morrocco have some diplomatic contact and seem to be willing to make peace after the Palestinian issue is solved. Recently, the Arab summit (i.e. representatives of Arab governments)offered in Beirut a peace plan that includes recognition and peace with Israel. I do not know if this plan deals with the right of return issue in a way Israel can accept while continuing to exist as a Jewish nation state. I also do not know if all the Arab governments in the summit accepted it, and whether they represnt Arab public opinion. Nor do I know how all this reflects on what the Palestinian want or do. However it cannot be denied that most or all Arab governments offered Israel a deal, which, even if not good (I don't know), indicate a willingnes for peace.

Between 1949 and 1967n no wars raged against Israel by Arab countries. Arab countries have supported attacks against Israel but not wars.

Up until 1992 no Israeli government was willing to offer a Palestinian state or withdrawl from tthe territories occupied since 1967. Between 1992-1996, and 1999-2000, an Israeli government was willing to offer a Palestinian state but not the 67 borders nor withdrawl from 100% of the territories. Barak went far in his offers but not that far. His offer indicates a clear willingness to make peace but whether the terms were acceptable is debatable. Since the last election we can say that there is an Israeli government willing to offer a Palestinian state, but we do not know whether it is willing to offer the 1967 borders (100% of the occupied territories or equivalent).

The intifada itself does not prove that the Palestinians do not want peace. It does show that in 2000 and since, some Palestinians, probably the majority, believed that they could promote their goals by using violence against Israeli civilians, and that tbey we willing to accept the harm it has done to Palestinians.

One of the key issues is the right of return. There are other issues. I do not know where the Palestinians stand on that issue since public debate tends to be stifled. I do know that some Palestinians were willing to speak out clearly about concessions regarding the right of return, but they seem to be a minority (Nusseyba). Others (arafat, Aby Mazen, Baraguti), make ambiguous statements. I do not know where the arab governments above stand on these issues either. I believe the biggest problem is Lebanon who deprives Palestinians living there of citizenship and other human rights because of their own demographic considerations.

Arabs (Palestinians) living in Israel (pre 67 borders) (20% of the population) have the right to vote and are represented in the Israeli Parliament. Arab parties still tend to be excluded from the Israeli government coalitions, and seem to be underrepresented in the executive branch of government. They are not oppressed, but they do suffer some discrimination, and receive a lesser share of the budget then there precentage in the population. This leads to poverty. Palestinians living in the territories occupied in 67 do not have Israeli citizenship, so they do not have the right to vote in Israeli elections. In so far as Israel controls said territories or considers them part of Israel (as many Israelis did), than in the occupied territories Israel is not democratic. Israelis who support democracy wish to see this situation rectefied by letting Palestinians living in the occupied territories to form their own Arab-Palestinian state.

Posted by Micha @ 04/27/2006 02:10 PM CST

I would like to thank Micha for the response to Mr. Jewish. I could not have said it any better. I hope Mr. Jewish can understand that no peace will ever occur in the middle east unless there is a return to the 1967 border. I hope that the people who want war to continue forever are a very small minority.

Posted by Mike Jebara @ 04/28/2006 08:19 PM CST

Unfortunately this "Euston Manifesto" is the work of people who are known in the UK as the "cruise missile left" - essentially people who supported the Iraq War because Saddam was a bad man. People who have thrown in their lot with Bush and Blair are no longer worthy of the name sodeletedt or "left". While they do have valid points to make about the equivalent idiocy of people (mainly the UK SWP) who see Hamas or the Iraqi insurgents as some sort of progressive anti-imperialist force, collapsing into the other reactionary camp is no sort of solution. I know some of these Euston characters personally and it's quite sad to see what's become of them.

Posted by Chris Bright @ 04/28/2006 08:26 PM CST

To Mr. Jewish. here is a part of the declaration that you seemed to have missed. I hope this will open your mind and see that the arabs are the only side (speaking from a leadership point) seeking a true and lasting peace in the middle east.
Here is part of the document:

Extracts from the text of the "Beirut Declaration" (final communique) issued by the Arab summit in Beirut, 28 March, 2002

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We, the kings, presidents, and emirs of the Arab states meeting in the Council of the Arab League Summit in Beirut, capital of Lebanon... have conducted a thorough assessment of the developments and challenges... relating to the Arab region and, more specifically, to the occupied Palestinian territory.

With great pride, we followed the Palestinian people's intifada and valiant resistance. We discussed the Arab initiatives that aim to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the region...

Based on the pan-Arab responsibility, and ...the objectives of the Arab League Charter, the UN Charter, we announce the following:

We will continue to ...protect the pan-Arab security and fend off the foreign schemes that aim to encroach on Arab territorial integrity.

We address a greeting of pride and honour to the Palestinian people's steadfastness and valiant intifada against the Israeli occupation and its destructive war machine.

We greet with honour and pride the valiant martyrs of the intifada....

We affirm solidarity with Lebanon to complete the liberation of its territory and pledge to extend aid to help its development and the reconstruction process.

We take pride in the Lebanese resistance and the outstanding Lebanese steadfastness that led to the withdrawal of the Israeli forces from the major part of South Lebanon and western Al-Biqa. We demand the release of the Lebanese prisoners, who are held in Israeli jails....

We emphasize our solidarity with Syria and Lebanon in the face of the Israeli aggressive threats that will undermine security and stability in the region.

We reaffirm that peace in the Middle East cannot succeed unless it is just and comprehensive... and based on the land for peace principle.

Expectations from Israel

A. Complete withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the 4 June 1967 line and the territories still occupied in southern Lebanon.

B. Attain a just solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees to be agreed upon in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution No 194.

C. Accept the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since 4 June 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital.

In return the Arab states will do the following:

Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict over, sign a peace agreement with Israel, and achieve peace for all states in the region

Establish normal relations with Israel within the framework of this comprehensive peace

This a part of it. As to my information, I don't get it from the sources that you stated. I believe that most western media is biased in favor of Israel. However, I get my information from many sources including Israeli sources such as this blog.
Thanks again Micha, I hope your comment wont get you in trouble with Mr. Jewish :)

Posted by Mike Jebara @ 04/28/2006 08:56 PM CST

Here is the web site for the information about the Arab Declaration
http://www.al-bab.com/arab/docs/league/communique02.htm

Posted by Mike Jebara @ 04/28/2006 09:00 PM CST

Mike, before you get too enthusiastic, it should be recalled that:

A: this document supports the violent intifada

B: It seems to support the violence of the Hizbulla, who still controls Southern Lebanon instead of the Lebanese government.

C: The actual governments of the Palestinians is a myriad of organizations, al of which promote violence and terrorism (the seperation between violence and terrorism is not a rhetoric device here).

D: The issue of the golan has a certain complication since the 67 borders do not correspond to the borders during the mandate.

E: Much more needs to be said about Jerusalem if its importance to all religions and nationalities is to be taken into consideration.

F: and of course this document does not address the refugee issue in a constructive way. It continues to be ambiguous about it, thus preventing Israelis from supporting it completely.

So it is a positive development, no doubt, but it is not the solution. Similarly, Olmerts willingness to withdraw from some of the terrotories is a major development, but not the solution.

At the end this is the problem. Most Israelis and most arabs want peace and are even willing to make what they consider huge concessions. but when you get to the details everything brakes down and many moderates end up going back to unilateral and often violent solutions.

Posted by Micha @ 04/28/2006 09:40 PM CST

Chris, the left does not seem to have a way of dealing with regimes like Saddam's, Sudan, etc. and to a certain degree Israel. It criticized the right for tolerating bad reactionary regimes while turning a blind eye to the oppressive nature of regimes that waved the red flag. It does not want to use military force, but sanctions seem to to cause more harm to ordinary people than to bad governments, and diplomacy without teeth doesn't seem to work. So, even if we agree that the Iraq War was wrong, it shouldn't have been so obvious to begin with. at least it should have been a dilemma for the left.

Posted by Micha @ 04/28/2006 09:46 PM CST

Ohhhhhhhhhhh Micha..... :(, I was enthusiastic for a little while anyway.
Israel did not even consider the arab offer. within hours of the arab decision, Ariel Sharon rejected it. Sharon did not request any opinions on this matter. Most of the issues you list above are not impossible to solve. However, when Israel continues to say NO to any arab solutions, the whole middle east suffers. The arabs would be easily convinced to take action if and when Israel decides to accept the arab declaration in principle. Details would be worked out by the leaders together. The main issue continues to be Israel's unilateral acts and Israel's claim that there is no partner to deal with....it is as if Israel is the only country and government in the middle east....until that thinking changes in Israel, the middle east will remain a war area, and the war machines in this world will continue being the big winners.

Posted by Mike Jebara @ 04/30/2006 07:33 PM CST

Mike, here is the problem: The Arabs can't take action until Israel accepts the arab declaration, Israel cannot accept the arab declaration while the arabs don't take action and terrorism continues. It's a puzzle.

I won't defend Sharon. Sharon rejected the plan because he was a right wing leader who has no interest in peace, who was elected by an Israeli public who has given all hope on peace. I as an Israeli would like to see Israelis reject the occupation and accept peace regardless of what the Palestinians do. At least now a majority of Israelis have shown a clear wilingness to give up on the occupation and to accept a Palestinian state in most of the territories, but it is not enough.

However, shouldn't arabs oppose the killing of innocent civilians regardless of what Israel does?

And is it fair the talk about "all the arab solutions" as if Israel is being drowned by constructive arab solutions?

Posted by Micha @ 04/30/2006 09:50 PM CST

"terrorism" This term that is still undefined. It's meaning differs from one group to another. The arab declaration states that a reasonable solution be found for the refugees. The status of Jerusalem can also be decided after the two groups meet. However, no meeting will ever occur if Israel refuses to agree to the arab offer. As to making any other offers, it would seem useless to make offers when Israel rejected the one and only offer that would end all hostilities in the middle east. If Israel continues to make private deals with some of the arabs, it may reduce, very little, the violence in Israel.
With Israel working to create it's final border on it's own and not based on the 1967 border, Israel is making sure that arab-Israeli conflict continues forever.

Posted by Mike Jebara @ 05/03/2006 02:34 PM CST

Mike,

I think we went over the terrorism issue. I don't really know what's so ambiguous about straping on explosives and blowing up a restaurant full of customers. However, I actually didn't say terrorism, I said violent intifada. The impotant point is that you expect Israel to enter negotiations while attacks against it continue, commit before hand to a plan that is rather vague on the issues most important to it, and hope that somehow in and after the negotiations violence stops and all its concerned will be solved in a satisfactory way. Israelis still remember what happened during the Oslo years -- many suicide attacks; and in Camp David -- a collapse of the peace process on these issues followed by unending violence. If it was up to me I would start negotiations now and committ beforehand to Palestinian state based on the 67 borders. I couldn't sign on to the Arab initiative. I wish a majority of Israelis would be willing to do the same, but their reservations are quite understandable, and considering the continued attacks against Israel and the mess with the Palestinians it is going to be very difficult to get Israelis to make more steps in the right direction (even if the left in Israel showed more cleverness and courage than it has so far). It is surprising they have gone this far in their support of withdrawl and a Palestinian state.

It would be nice if the Palestinians actually helped instead of making it harder.

In your post about the Arab initiative what is said about the refugee issue is "just" and UN resolution 194, if reasonable is supposed to be there you forgot to write it.

Posted by Micha @ 05/03/2006 09:07 PM CST

hi Micha,

The left certainly does have a way of dealing with regimes like Saddam's - it's the way the Nicaraguans dealt with Somoza or the Romanians with Ceausescu. The advantage with this method is that you are hopefully not left with an unsustainable situation like the present one in Iraq.

And it's a half-truth at best to suggest the left was silent on "oppressive regimes that waved the red flag". Some lefties were, to their shame. The best of the left however supported Solidarnosc and the various genuine workers' movements in the Stalinist countries.

Supporting the Iraq (mis)adventure on "human rights" grounds disregards the essential nature of the enterprise, which was an attempt to advance the interests of US capital in the Middle East. It's chucking out any sort of class political analysis and substituting rose-tinted spectacles - in exactly the same way as the 'stupid left' is presently doing with the Sunni-supremacist "resistance".

Posted by Chris @ 05/04/2006 04:47 PM CST

I'm not familiar with the events in Nicaragua. I doubt if the left can take credit for the fall of Ceausescu. I don't know if the left in the west can take credit for regimes toppled by leftist organizations in other countries (say Castro), but it is guilty if it continued to support said revolutionaries when they became oppressive.

The greater question is this: what should the international community do to deal with oppressive regimes if (a) the people under oppression seem unable to change things themselves; (b) their is an immanent threat to subjects under the control of said regime; (c) the regime in question poses an actual threat. (for example (a) Jews living under Nazi Laws but before the Holocaust; (b) the Holocaust; (c) the beginning of WWII.

Somehow it is always the other left that did all the bad things. In any case, some of the left (in the west) were supportive of oppressive leftis regimes. Whether others actually spoke against these regimes or just refrained from speaking for them, I do not know. At the end the question is how to deal with oppressive regimes in general.

If the human rights ground were a valid concern, than attacking Iraq would have been justified regardless of America's other interests. The war against Nazi Germany was waged by a brutal dictator a colonial oppressor and a country a third of which was segregated. However, considering that at that time Saddam was not slaughtering masses of civilians, and the harm caused to civilians by the war was worse than the general level of oppression they were suffering under Saddam. and considering no proper procedure to deal with oppressive regimes that will seem credible has been developed (either by the left or right), it would seem that the war was wrong. However, I do not think the war was waged for economic reasons, even if they did play a factor. Reducing everything to economics tends to reduce the complexity of the motivations involved in such processes.

Posted by Micha @ 05/05/2006 03:02 AM CST

I need to clarify the above point.

I am a leftist myself. I do not think that all the leftists supported oppressive regimes or terrorism or sunni supremacist. Some did and do, and they have caused harm to the causes the left should support. That is one of the reasons for the Euston manifesto apparently. However the attitudes in the left can not be divided to good left and bad left, there are gradients and various kinds of blindness.

I do think the moderate left should be more clear about its opposition to oppresion and terrorism. It is not enough not to speak for these things. When I was active in the Israeli Peace Now I was often frustrated by how some leftists excused terrorism while others, who were afraid to be painted with the same brush as the others, instead of speaking clearly against oppression and terrorism, ended up not speaking out against either, leaving the field to the more extremeists.

It is also necessary to distinguish the question of the attitudes of the left in the west towards oppressive regimes and the question of how the west, according to the left, as a matter of policy should deal with these regimes. Waiting for the people of these countries to liberate themselves (as in Nicaragua) is not always a satisfactory solution. Sanctions harm the oppressed more than the regimes, and the downside of military intervention is clear.

Posted by Micha @ 05/05/2006 12:11 PM CST

My view would be that the left is not in business to advise the capitalists about how they should best run the world. Our perspective should be to take control of the world away from the capitalists. I guess that puts me on the "class struggle left" rather than the liberal left, but then I would regard the "liberal left" as actually being part of the right.

The idea that the US state would spend $250bn on a war without there being long term US economic interests involved seems incredibly unlikely to me. What other reason could there be? Saddam hardly posed a military threat - even if he had had the fabled WMDs.

The problem of how to deal with oppressive regimes is a serious one, however no-one else has actually come up with an answer. Where there is no direct interest (Congo, Darfur, Rwanda for example), military intervention along Iraq lines does not happen. So neither the right nor the left actually has a solution to this.

Incidentally, with Ceasescu it was the Romanian working class that actually made the change, not any organised left group - I wasn't claiming that for "the left" but counterposing mass internal action to external intervention. Supporting local groups struggling for change would be my preferred option in almost all cases.

Posted by Chris @ 05/05/2006 01:40 PM CST

"Incidentally, with Ceasescu it was the Romanian working class that actually made the change, not any organised left group - I wasn't claiming that for "the left" but counterposing mass internal action to external intervention. Supporting local groups struggling for change would be my preferred option in almost all cases."

Wouldn't that be considerd interfering in the affairs of other countries. In any case, even sanctions are a form of external intervention, a so is a business as usual approach. You can't win.

"The problem of how to deal with oppressive regimes is a serious one, however no-one else has actually come up with an answer. Where there is no direct interest (Congo, Darfur, Rwanda for example), military intervention along Iraq lines does not happen. So neither the right nor the left actually has a solution to this."

Exactly. The ideal would be to unite around humanist-humanitarian considerations.

"The idea that the US state would spend $250bn on a war without there being long term US economic interests involved seems incredibly unlikely to me. What other reason could there be? Saddam hardly posed a military threat - even if he had had the fabled WMDs."

A. Humans are not that rational.
B. If Saddam had weapons of mas distruction this would have caused two concerns for the Americans, one partially cynical, the other nightmarish. The cynical one is that the threat of using WMD would have enabled him Saddam to act against, say, Kuwait, and the Americans ability to act in response would have been limited; in short, it wouldhave reduced the options of the Americans. The nightmarish concern is of course that Saddam would have handed/sold such weapons to Al-Quida, whowould not have hesitated using them. Imagine 9/11 (or London or Madrid or Moscow) but with a nuclear weapon, set by an organisation that is spread all over the world. What do you do? Who do you hit? How do you protect yourself?
C. It is easy to imagine some ceo's siting somewhere and manipulating the world for there own economic goals, but the [American] masses (which the left always speaks about but never tries to listen too), actually buy into the image of America as the great savior of Iraqi people. They may be deluded, supified, and wrong, but these are milliions of people whose support for the war was not motivated by oil interests.

"My view would be that the left is not in business to advise the capitalists about how they should best run the world. Our perspective should be to take control of the world away from the capitalists. I guess that puts me on the "class struggle left" rather than the liberal left, but then I would regard the "liberal left" as actually being part of the right."

I don't think I like the idea of toasting marshmeloes while the world burns waiting till come the revolution. Do you actually have a plan how to take over the world?

Posted by Micha @ 05/06/2006 02:07 AM CST

"Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can,
in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can."

Posted by Sharon @ 05/06/2006 07:01 AM CST

Micha,

"Wouldn't [supporting local groups struggling for change] be considered interfering in the affairs of other countries."

That's never stopped the US previously. But I was referring to what working class political organisations should do, not what the US government should do - as per my firs comment on 5/5.

"The ideal would be to unite around humanist-humanitarian considerations."

Well, we can discuss at leisure what we would do in an ideal situation. But all we can actually do at present is to analyse what is *really* going on as best we can, explain that as best we can, and take whatever action we think *might* make a difference (in this case demonstrating against a war which was clearly not fought for humanitarian motives).

"A. Humans are not that rational."

Maybe not individually, but I doubt the US nomenklatura en masse would have let Bush start that war if at least a plurality didn't think it was likely to be advantageous.

Your point B is too long to quote, but no-one seriously maintained Saddam had a nuclear program. The issue was chemical and biological weapons. He had those last time he invade Kuwait. Not much use to him.

C. ...the [American] masses...support for the war was not motivated by oil interests.

No, but they don't support it any more do they? Besides, I would have thought after the Jewish experience with the German "masses", the idea that people can be seriously misled would never be far away.

"Do you actually have a plan how to take over the world?"

That's a secret! But to get back on topic, neither do the Euston crowd. They have some valid criticisms of the anti-war movement, but all they themselves have done is to collapse in the other direction. Personally, I opposed the war, which I think has proved to be the correct line even if we look at the likely longer-term inplications, and I do what I can to support the beleaguered Iraqi sodeletedt and womens rights movements, who are under threat from both the Islamist government and the insurgents.

Posted by Chris @ 05/08/2006 07:54 PM CST


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