Fighting a Forbidden Battle: How I Stopped Covering Up for a Hidden Wrong

by Jesse Lieberfeld

I once belonged to a wonderful religion. I belonged to a religion that allows those of us who believe in it to feel that we are the greatest people in the world—and feel sorry for ourselves at the same time. Once, I thought that I truly belonged in this world of security, self-pity, self-proclaimed intelligence, and perfect moral aesthetic. I thought myself to be somewhat privileged early on. It was soon revealed to me, however, that my fellow believers and I were not part of anything so flattering.

Although I was fortunate enough to have parents who did not try to force me into any one set of beliefs, being Jewish was in no way possible to escape growing up. It was constantly reinforced at every holiday, every service, and every encounter with the rest of my relatives. I was forever reminded how intelligent my family was, how important it was to remember where we had come from, and to be proud of all the suffering our people had overcome in order to finally achieve their dream in the perfect society of Israel.

Continue reading “Fighting a Forbidden Battle: How I Stopped Covering Up for a Hidden Wrong”

No Way to Honor Dr. King

by Medea Benjamin

The ceremonies for the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington DC were kicked off on August 24 at an event billed as Honoring Global Leaders for Peace. But some of those honored are a far cry from King’s beloved community of the poor and oppressed. The tribute to peacemakers, organized by the MLK National Memorial Foundation, was mostly a night applauding warmakers, corporate profiteers and co-opted musicians.

The night started out with great promise when MC Andrea Mitchell mentioned Dr. King’s brilliant anti-war speech Beyond Vietnam as a key to understanding the real Dr. King. And sure, there were a few wonderful moments—a song by Stevie Wonder, a speech about nonviolence by the South African Ambassador and a quick appearance by Jesse Jackson in which he managed to spit out a call to “study war no more.”

But most of the evening’s speakers and guests of honor had little to do with peacemaking. One of the dignitaries thanked at the start of the program was Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, representing a country that uses $3 billion a year in precious U.S. tax dollars to commit war crimes against Palestinians.

Then came a parade of representatives of corporations that want to cleanse their image by being associated with Dr. King. The first was General Motors VP Eric Peterson. His company took billions from government coffers to keep it afloat, then showed its “generosity” by donating $10 million of our tax dollars to the memorial. Mr. Peterson gave a speech paying tribute to the company’s first black board member, Rev. Leon Sullivan. Peterson claimed that the Sullivan Principles, principles that established a social responsibility code for companies working in South Africa, helped abolish apartheid. The truth is that the Sullivan Principles ended up being a cover for U.S. corporations—like General Motors–to continue doing business in racist South Africa instead of respecting the international divestment campaign.

Continue reading “No Way to Honor Dr. King”

Tough Minds and Tender Hearts

by Kathy Kelley

I spent Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday in Washington, D.C. as part of the Witness Against Torture fast, which campaigns to end all forms of torture and has worked steadily for an end to indefinite detention of people imprisoned in Guantanamo, Bagram, and other secret sites where the U.S. has held and tortured prisoners.  We’re on day 9 of a twelve day fast to shut down Guantanamo, end torture, and build justice

The community gathered for the fast has grown over the past week.  This means, however, that as more people sleep on the floor of St. Stephen’s church, there is a rising cacophony of snoring.  Our good friend, Fr. Bill Pickard, suggested trying to hear the snores as an orchestra, when I told him I’d slept fitfully last night.

There is a young boy in Mir Ali, a town in North Waziristan, in Pakistan, who also lies awake at night, unable to sleep.  Israr Khan Dawar is 17 years old.  He told an AP reporter, on January 14th, that he and his family and friends had gotten used to the drones.  But now, at night, the sound grows louder and the drones are flying closer, so he and his family realize they could be a target.  He braces himself in fear of an attack.

Continue reading “Tough Minds and Tender Hearts”

How Long? Not Long

Friend of P U L S E Jeffrey Lockman brings this to my attention. What if the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had lived? ‘He would have continued speaking out’, writes Jeffrey, ‘against injustice, war including that in Gaza’. Two timely clips follow.

And ‘A Time to Break Silence’. MLK speaking about Viet Nam, but it could equally apply to Israel. Continue reading “How Long? Not Long”