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Monday, July 31, 2006

Pay no attention to the much more important race next door

Many liberal bloggers, including some of my favorites, are thrilled that Holy Joe Lieberman is likely to be defeated in the Connecticut Democratic Party by Ned Lamont. I'll certainly be glad to see the smug pro-war moralizer tossed in the garbage. But Lamont appears to be only a slight improvement, with sort of a Howard Dean approach--he opposes one war (Iraq), but doesn't seem to have any plans to derail the military-industrial complex. He's also right on the AIPAC party line when it comes to Israel. From Counterpunch:
Ned Lamont is safely pro-Israel. The statement on his website leaves no room for doubt. "At this critical time in the Middle East," Lamont says. "I believe that when Israel's security is threatened, the United States must unambiguously stand with our ally to be sure that it is safe and secure. On this principle, Americans are united."
Ned--to you and all politicians who claim we Americans are united in supporting war crimes, I shout a hearty "Go Cheney yourself!" Still, I hope you win, but I sure don't don't expect much.

Meanwhile, in the next state over, a senator just as bad as Lieberman, and a much greater threat to America's future because of her front-runner status for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, is running for re-election against exactly the type of person who should be in the Senate. Jonathan Tasini is a true anti-war liberal, and a Jew willing to speak the truth about Israel:
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's Democratic foe Jonathan Tasini says that Israel--where he spent his teenage years--is violating international law and terrorizing civilians in Lebanon and Gaza.

When asked if Israel was acting like a "terrorist state" during an interview with the political blog Room 8, Tasini seemed to respond in the affirmative.

"It has certainly committed many acts of brutality and violations of human rights and torture," said Tasini, an American Jew who lived in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem from 1971 to 1980 with his father, a university professor.

"Terrorism is a very heavily laden word," he added in the interview with Room 8's Gur Tsabar, who is Israeli. "Are your actions in violation of the international norms of the Geneva Convention, and so on? And so I think it's sad to say, but it's clear, yeah."
Tasini later told Newsday that his answer was garbled and that he doesn't think Israel is a terrorist state. But he reaffirmed his opposition to its military tactics, a position shared by peace organizations in Israel.

His comments drew an immediate rebuke from Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson, who labeled his remarks "outrageous, deeply offensive and beyond the pale."

Tasini, who said his father fought "shoulder to shoulder" with assassinated Prime Minister and Clinton family friend Yitzhak Rabin during Israel's fight for independence, accused the senator of political pandering. "For simply pure political reasons, Hillary Clinton will not stand up and say the violence must stop--and that's costing lives," he said. "She's no friend of Israel when she essentially endorses this kind of war."
That's from Newsday, via Dennis Perrin, who knows Tasini personally and writes about his candidacy. Perrin realizes that Tasini doesn't have much hope against Hillary's millions, and doesn't really see much success in Senator Tasini's future should he get elected. Still, for me, derailing the Hillary Express would be service enough.

Oooh! Instant update! I went to Tasini's campaign web site, and here is what he has to say about the Qana massacre:
Let’s get one thing straight: the killing of dozens of children in Qana was an inevitable result of an aggressive aerial bombing campaign. Last week, I tried to warn our political leaders that our country could not stand by idly as Israel launched a massive attack that was sure to cause heavy civilian casualties. I was one of the few candidates for political office who called for an immediate ceasefire and condemned the violence on both sides: the firing of missiles by Hezbollah and the dropping of bombs by Israel. Instead of calling for restraint or a ceasefire, however, my opponent, Hillary Clinton, tried to Swift-boat me, dispatching her political operatives to lie about what I had said.

In a sense, I understand why my opponent has to try to silence the truth. She, and a broad segment of our political leadership, bear responsibility for the deaths of these children. They gave cover for what many rank-and-file Israeli citizens (and some Israeli politicians) are now calling a moral and military debacle. The Bush Administration stood by while a large part of infrastructure of Lebanon was reduced to rubble. Rather than call for restraint, Hillary Clinton stopped just short of declaring "let the bombs fall" with a one-sided statement that only helped fan the flames of violence.

So, I am not backing down. I am repeating what I said before: we must end the violence. Our country must reverse its one-sided policy in the Middle East and push aggressively for a strong, independent, economically viable Palestinian state existing along side a strong, independent, economically vibrant Israel. It is the only solution that will bring peace to the civilians who now live in fear of death raining down from above.

I remind people that my father was a proud fighter in the Israeli underground in 1948 and fought for its founding. Half my family lives in Israel. Indeed, a cousin of mine was killed in 1973 war and my step-grandfather was murdered by a Palestinian, for the simple reason he was a Jew. I know what it is like to sit in a bomb shelter or touch the body of a person killed by war. Has Hillary Clinton or other so-called "friends of Israel," who have cheered for armed conflict and death and destruction, ever spent one night in fear from war or sobbing in sorrow because of the death of a loved one in war? For them, it is all about political calculations, pandering and votes.

Was it worth it? Was it worth it to poison the Lebanese environment with spilled and burning oil, toxic waste flows, piled up garbage that will spread diseases? The death of hundreds of civilians, the flattening of entire towns and a huge portion of southern Beirut, the destruction of hundreds of millions of dollars of civilian infrastructure, and the creation of a two-mile dead zone at the Lebanese border—none of this is going to make my relatives in Israel any safer from Katyusha and Fajr missile attacks in the future. This war has unified the Lebanese and much of the world against Israel, many of whom just a month ago despised Hezbollah—and has done relatively little to weaken the militia’s power and appeal. Real security will come when we finally recognize that Israel’s future is inextricably linked to a just resolution to the Palestinian people’s legitimate demands for safety, security, and self-determination.

I want to guarantee Israel's long-term peace and security, as well as the peace and security of the Palestinians and the Lebanese. We can't ever do so with an approach that mimics the Bush Administration’s imperial, oil-driven Middle East agenda. Last week George Bush sent Condoleeza Rice to the Rome peace conference for one purpose--to single-handedly derail the agreement for a cease-fire. Even by the Bush Administration's already low standards, this was truly an embarrassment and a disgrace. But, we must also reject Hillary Clinton-style politics that allows itself to be held hostage to the blind ideology of the ultra-right-wing fundamentalist settlers and their supporters, who hold too much power.

American Jews such as myself will have to gain the courage to speak out against unjust and ineffectual policies that play into the extremist agenda on both sides. If you want to gain any hope from my experience, it's worth noting that since my first statement last week, we have been deluged with calls and emails; they are running 10-1 in favor of my position, almost all from Jewish Americans. There is hope. We must reject the same old pandering and lies, and turn instead to real, principled leadership, for a just and lasting peace for the children of Israel and Palestine. Let us resolve to make the children of Qana the last innocent people to see their lives end violently and needlessly.
I was going to edit Tasini's post like I do with most things I quote, but I just can't find any paragraphs I want to cut from that. It was hard enough not to include his previous post: More on the Clinton-Wal-Mart Connection.

So, while we get all excited that there might be a slightly improved senator from Connecticut, improving one percent of the Senate, there's a chance next door to elect a real peacenik, and thwart the big-moneyed plans of the other "leading" family in America's ruling class.