UltraViolet April/May 2004

Job Creation Science Resurrects Economy
Candlelight Vigil for Teen Deaths  in the California Youth Authority
Deja Vu in Haiti
Puerto Rico Anniversary
Anti-zionism isn’t antisemitism,  BUT …
Marriage Is Still the Opiate of the Queers
Silver Sisters
Workers Comp Disabled
Board Doctors Measure A
Students and Parents Protest Over Gender Nondiscrimination Law
The MOCHA Column
Bringing the endless tragedy of war home from New York to Iraq
Live from Palestine
Is Israel really an apartheid state?

Job Creation Science Resurrects Economy

“Idle hands are the tools of the devil and an enemy in the war on terrorism.”

With this earth-shattering announcement, President Dick Cheney unveiled a new economic policy on Easter Sunday. The Reverend Pat Robertson was appointed to replace Alan Greenspan as head of the Federal Reserve. “The Bible nowhere speaks of monetarism as economic policy for a Christian nation,” said Cheney.

A series of raids, led by agents of Homeland Security and the Christian God, immediately followed the announcement. The Cornell School of Labor Studies was shut down.  Keynesians who refused to flee from their homes were shot on sight.  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had already preemptively destroyed the University of California Center for Labor Education, disbanded the state legislature, which he described as a “den of evolutionary apostasy.”

Bob Jones University will replace the extreme-liberal University of Chicago as the economy’s spiritual center.  A former Oakland city councilman who has asked to remain nameless was hired to explore the impact of gay-focused employment districts on job creation.

Acting Vice President George W. Bush, in a televised sermon on the Mound, defended his decision to eliminate all jobs in the manufacturing and retail sectors.  “Last month, we eliminated 10% of jobs and that resulted in the highest rate of job creation in a decade,” Bush recited.  “Thus we know that eliminating 100% of jobs will result in the highest rate of job creationism in a century.”

It was announced that more than 300,000 jobs had been created. Many believed it.

Protest Alan Dershowitz
Speaking on “The Case for Israel”
at U.C. Berkeley
Thursday, April 29
Lecture scheduled to start 7:30 p.m.
Zellerbach Hall
(Protests are currently being planned)
Go to www.quitpalestine.org for more info, or call (510)434-1304.

Candlelight Vigil for Teen Deaths in the California Youth Authority

April 28, 2004
7:00 PM - Frank Ogawa Plaza
(14th and Broadway), Oakland

Background: On January 19th, at 1:20pm, a California Youth Authority (CYA) prison correctional officer found cellmates Durrell Feaster,18, and Deon Whitfield,17, dead, hanging from bed sheets tied around their necks. Why would two young men give up all hope in life? The CYA is an abyss of violence and neglect. Recent reports expose horrible conditions such as locking youth in 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement without cause for months on end, and forcing students into small cages for school periods. Help us promote real rehabilitation, preventative programs, and job opportunities for young people. We must stop the torture and warehousing of our youth. Join Families for Books Not Bars, Death Penalty Focus, community leaders, and youth across California as we come together for healing, justice, and hope 100 days after the tragedy.
Contact: Mike Molina at (415) 951-4844 ext. 229 or e-mail  mike@ellabakercenter.org

Deja Vu in Haiti

There’s a bush in the whitehouse. The u.s. has invaded Iraq and is sponsoring a coup led by mass murderers which has forced from power the democratically elected president of Haiti, Jean-Baptiste Aristide.  It seems like it’s 1991 all over again, but none of us are 13 years younger.

Jean-Baptiste Aristide was deposed from his first term as elected president of Haiti in 1991by the Haitian military. Nut until 1994 was he able to complete his 5 year term of office following an invasion ordered by then-president bill clinton. Aristide was re-elected president in 2000 to a second 5 year term. Throughout his administration the u.s. government has undermined the country’s institutions and its government’s policies. U.s. foreign policy, married to u.s. corporations engineered and financed the overthrow of democratically elected governments throughout the americas (and the world). In 1954 Guillermo Arbenz was overthrown in a u.s./dole sponsored coup in Guatemala. In 1973 the government of Salvador Allende was overthrown in a coup sponsored by Henry Kissinger and ITT (among others). These actions led to may years of brutal dictatorship, tens of thousands dead and continued u.s. control of the region.

Haiti_demoThe bush government has engaged in economic warfare against Haiti. International aid loans intended for development and healthcare have been held up because of u.s. government pressure. This contrasts with the substantial support given to the duvalier and subsequent military regimes. The administration has funded right wing groups whose activities extend to political murder during attempts to destabilize the country.

The Aristide administration resisted pressures to sell off national assets, struggling against creeping globalization pushed by the IMF. Instead, efforts were directed to improving agriculture, transportation, education, infrastructure, health care.

A partner in this most recent intervention is france (also canada). In 1825 the government of france extorted from Haiti funds which in today’s money is worth about $21 billion. This was to compensate french property owners for the loss of their slaves in Haiti.

The Aristide government abolished the Haitian military. It was working to establish an independent judiciary. It adopted economic policies intended to help the vast majority of Haitians, not a few rich and multinational corporations. The u.s. government decided this could not happen so economic and political sabotage preceded this right wing coup.

200 years ago Haiti declared its independence, following the world’s only successful revolution of enslaved people. In this bicentennial year the people of Haiti are fighting the same forces and governments.

In response to the coup in Haiti and to the almost universal media campaign of lies surrounding it, ANSWER organized an emergency response demonstration on March 2. The Haiti Action Center is tracking the situation, and can be found at www.haitiaction.org.

50th Anniversary of Puerto Rican Nationalist Attack on Congress

March 2, 1954 Lolita Lebron, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Andres Figueroa Cordero, and Irving Flores Rodriguez unfurled the flag of Puerto Rico, shouted “Que viva Puerto Rico Libre” and fired into the chamber of the House of Representatives.

March 2, 2004 saw a commemoration of this anniversary, celebrating the release of some prisoners of war, celebrating victories at Vieques, and reminding us of the continuing struggle to free Puerto Rico.


Anti-zionism isn’t antisemitism, BUT …

by Kate

There is antisemitism against Jews going around.  Again.  And some of it is masquerading as anti-Zionism.  Again.

At the big wonderful Return to the Docks action in Oakland on April 7, a man was handing out a quarter-sheet flier, which reads:

“Fellow Americans,

Without America’s ‘blank check’ approval of Israel and without the billions of dollars annually congress gives Israel, there would not have been a 9/11 or our soldiers dying daily in Iraq in a war costing us over $4 billion a month.”

Now already, this is suspect, because there is that small detail about Iraq having 1/10th of the world’s oil.  But certainly, we are all in agreement that u.s. aid to israel is a curse on the universe that must end.  So far, so so.

The flier continues, “While some American Jews – maybe even many – oppose Israel’s policies, too many are Zionists which make them Israelis first, Americans second, and a 5th column in America.”  Right there, I knew this flier was up to no good, because I never met a use of the phrase “5th column” that I liked.  (For those of you who, like me, don’t quite know what it means, “This term for a group of insurgents, traitors, or spies is a calque from Spanish. It dates to 1936 and the Spanish Civil War. That year, Nationalist general Emilio Mola had surrounded Madrid with four military columns and declared that he had a "fifth column" ("quinta columna") within the besieged city. The quotation was widely reported in British and American newspapers and the term quickly caught on and generalized.” www.wordorigins.org)

“They have tied Israel and its genocidal actions, like an albatross, around America’s neck through their money (lobbying/bribing) of politicians, because of their influence in the media, and because of their numbers in government – 11% of the U.S. Senate are Jewish Zionists while Jews are only 1.3% of our population, and Jewish Zionists are even less.  Both of California’s Senators – Boxer and Feinstein – are Zionists.  Neither has seen a vote for money for or approval of Israel’s policies they did not like.

Free America! Free Palestine! Stop U.S. Aid to Israel and Stop the curse of Zionism!  Get Feinstein, Boxer, Lantos, Lieberman, and Pelosi out of Washington!”

The flier refers people to a website www.ZionismExplained.org and cautions, “Understand: being anti-Zionist is not being anti-Semitic.”  Now this made some people hesitate.

“He does say Jewish Zionists,” objected one friend to whom I complained about it.

“Yes,” I said, “but why does he mention their ethnicity/religion at all?  Why is he targeting only one group of Zionists?  Why is he counting legislators from one ethnic/religious group?  Why doesn’t he tell us how overrepresented white Christian male Zionists are” (hint:  nearly all the men in the Senate are white X-tian Zionists, and many of them are also antisemites).  And, just FYI, Jews are estimated at 2.2% of the population, and Nancy Pelosi isn’t Jewish, though her son-in-law is and she is a Zionist.

answer-skinhead.jpgWhile I was still fretting over that, five pro-war counter-demonstrators showed up, and the media of course glommed onto them.  One of them had a sign that showed a peacenik shaking hands with a nazi and said, “Setting aside our differences to focus on our common goals:  peace, love, harmony, killing Jews, and tolerance.”  I went up to the guy carrying it, who of course was not Jewish, and said that I didn’t appreciate being used to defend genocide in Iraq and Palestine, and that he should find another way to make his point.  He said, “Well, it gets people’s attention.”  I repeated that I didn’t appreciate it, and gave up because he obviously didn’t give a damn what actual Jews think, and probably didn’t even believe there were any.  (Interestingly, the poster, which you can download on the net along with others if you want to be sick, is entitled, “answer_skinhead.pdf”.  Also interesting is that one of the Hillel youth counterdemonstrating at the April 9 Deir Yassin commemoration rally at UC Berkeley was carrying a sign that turns out to be created by this protestwarrior.com group.)

And speaking of white X-tian Zionist antisemites, there’s Mel Gibson.

Thanks to his oh-so-original movie, elementary school kids and teachers alike are getting treated to the old “You people are awful, you killed Christ,” taunts that I grew up with.  The Berkeley Daily Planet ran a full-page article concluding that, actually, the Jews probably were involved in killing Christ, and we shouldn’t make such a big deal about it.

Reports one contributor to a web conversation, “Mel Gibson's new film "The Passion" is stirring up allegations of anti-semitism for its charges of deicide against Jews. In a strange spectacle on CNN, an Evangelical leader debated a Jewish (rabbinic) scholar of Catholic/Jewish relations. When responding to charges that the film depicted Jews as responsible for killing Christ, the Evangelical leader responded that the Evangalical movement was supporting Israel and so they couldn't be anti-semitic.”

While some Jewish Zionist writers have time for fighting both Gibson’s anti-Semitism and critics of israel, others argue that the only real anti-semitism in the world today is anti-zionism.  Writing on israelforum.com, one commentator says Jews shouldn’t be wasting energy worrying about Gibson’s film, when the real threat is the International Criminal Court hearings on the Apartheid Wall.  “At the very least, a European court passing judgment on the Jewish state is in bad taste…Gibson’s movie won’t kill anyone.”

Now I was already perfecting my answer to “Are we focusing on israel because we are antisemitic?” I had practiced saying “Violating human rights is not a Jewish characteristic, the people who do it don’t do it because they are Jewish, and suggesting that Jews can not be held to accepted international standards of human rights is what is anti-semitic.” until it rolled trippingly off my tongue.  I really do not appreciate having to go back and explain that anti-Semitism against Jews exists, is capable of doing real damage, is unacceptable, and when linked with anti-Zionism makes it infinitely more difficult to convince people who might be confused that it’s okay to oppose israeli policies.

So get them to cut it out, okay?

Marriage Is Still the Opiate of the Queers

“We want the abolition of the institution of the bourgeois nuclear family.

We believe that the bourgeois nuclear family perpetuates the false categories of homosexuality and heterosexuality by creating sex roles, sex definitions and sexual exploitation.  The bourgeois nuclear family as the basic unit of capitalism creates oppressive roles of homosexuality and heterosexuality….It is every child’s right to develop in a non-sexist, non-racist, non-possessive atmosphere which is the responsibility of all people, including gays, to create.”

--“Third World Gay Liberation Manifesto,” New York City (circa 1970)

“The struggle for civil rights within the context of this society can, at best, result in second class status and toleration by a wretched straight society.  The struggle for democratic or civil rights assumes that the system is basically okay, and that its flaws can be corrected through legal reform….We demand the right of all lesbians and gay men, and children to live in the manner we choose.”

--“Gay Liberation, Not Just Gay Rights!” LAGAI, Lavender Left (Los Angeles) and Lesbian and Gay Liberation and Solidarity Committee (New York), 1987

A specter is haunting Amerikkka.

The specter of gay marriage.

Every few years, it seems, we have a new wave of push and counterpush on the marriage issue, and we are always in the same unpleasant position.  We demand all civil rights for queer people.

But marriage isn’t a civil right.  It’s a civil wrong.

Just because George W., Pete KKKnight and the KKKristian RRRight don’t want us to get married, doesn’t mean we have to want to.

In 1996, we held our legendary First Ever Mass Gay Divorce on Castro Street, where a good time was had by all at the dish breaking booth and the Go Your Separate Ways Travel Agency.  At that time, we wrote the following flier (remember that great Toaster Head graphic):

“Remember us? We are lesbians and gay men, the people who choose love, and sex, over societal acceptance, over physical security, over the almighty buck.

We pursue our love into the cities and towns where we find each other. What a wonderful variety of relationships we have - from anonymous or casual sex in baths, bathrooms and beaches, to long-term monogamy and everything (and everyone) in between. We say, "the state can't tell us who, or how, to love." We say, "Get your laws off my body." So how exactly does that become a plea to the state to marry us? Will having state-defined relationships make us better lovers? It hasn't done much for hets.

We always thought that one of the good things about being a lesbian, or gay man, is that you don't have to get married. Many of us have parents who are or were married, and really, it's nothing to write home about.

The heterosexual nuclear family is the most dangerous place to be. A woman is beaten every 15 seconds. One girl in three is sexually molested by the time she reaches maturity. According to the National Coalition to Prevent Child Abuse, one million children were abused last year, and 1,000 were killed. 46 percent of the murdered children were not yet one year old.

We're here today because we were lucky enough to survive these odds.

When our gay leaders talk about how gay marriage will support the institution of marriage in this society, we have to agree. We would oppose it for this reason alone. It is interesting that while assimilationists clamor for gay marriage, the right wing is trying to hold straight marriages together by eliminating no-fault divorce. Strange bedfellows?

Gay marriage might give some married gay people access to health care, tax breaks, and immigration rights. But shouldn't our community be fighting for us all to have access to health care, whatever our "marital status?" The same for immigration. Somehow, in these right-wing times, money, goods, and jobs are free to flow across the border, but not people. Shouldn't everyone be able to live where they want to, who made these borders anyhow? And why should any married people pay less taxes? What assimilationist gays are really asking is that the heterosexuals share some of their privilege with queers who want to be like them. 

There is a basic conflict here, between those who see the gay movement as a way to gain acceptance in straight society, and lesbians and gay men who are fighting to create a society in our own image. A decent and humane society where we can be free. We do not want the crumbs from this society's table, and we are not fighting for a place at it. We want to overturn the fucking table.

Assimilation is NOT liberation”

We couldn’t have said it better.  Oh, yeah, we did say it.

The origins of the LGBTQ movement are revolutionary.  The rebellions at Stonewall and San Francisco City Hall were led by drag queens and butches who rejected heterosexual roles and restrictions, who were inspired by the revolutionary example of the Black Panthers and the Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell (WITCH).  Now, some of the same people who participated in those fabulous outpourings of anti-establishment rage tripped over each other on the way to City Hall to have their love blessed by gavin newsom, successor to dan white and dianne feinstein, darling of the developers, persecutor of the homeless, and cause of Gay Shame getting beaten and busted by the cops on more than one occasion.

For many older lesbian and gay couples, who recall the days when they could not go to a bar without fear, the chance for official sanction of their love feels like a chance for acceptance after a lifetime of oppression.  We respect their choice.  But we continue to demand that we honor all our relationships, not just the ones that mimic straight capitalist society.

We remind queer people everywhere that we did not survive the early days of the AIDS epidemic because of the relationships between one man and one man, but because of the strong love of our communities: the health care teams of gay men, lesbians, fag hags and chosen families who spent days and weeks hanging around the ICUs of Kaiser and PPMC, refusing to leave when told “family only,” fighting bitterly with biological family members who showed up trying to cram their loved ones into a box and whisk them back to Iowa or New Jersey to be buried with crosses or tallises.

According to a 2004 General Accounting Office report, there are 1,138 federal rights and responsibilities that are automatically accorded to married people.  Why should we fight for 1,138 rights for some people, instead of all rights for all people?  If Freedom To Marry and the Human Rights Campaign Fund (of course, what can you expect from the folks who brought you the equals sign?) put the resources they have already spent on the “right” to get married into fighting for health coverage for all residents of this rich country (not “virtually all Americans” as “promised” by future president john kerry) and housing for all the queer youth kicked out by their families and living on the streets, we would have a much better world by now.

Every so-called communist organization in town is suddenly joining the battle cry for marriage.  Huh?  Have they forgotten their Engels?  It is testimony to the fundamental homophobia of the left, that they are only comfortable fighting for the most puritan of queer rights.  Where were they when the bathhouses were being closed?  The left has never recognized queer liberation as the truly revolutionary movement that it is.  It is time they did.

The right wingers say marriage is a sacred religious institution.  We agree.  The state has no business getting involved in religious institutions, from sanctioning personal unions to legislating what schoolgirls should wear on their heads (though we don’t really recommend the toasters).

Of course, we too will be fighting to defeat the anti-queer marriage amendments.  How can we not?  But we resent having to do it, and we will not allow it to distract us from our real needs: equality, justice, self-determination and self-actualization for ALL.  Just because you are not someone’s significant other, does not mean you are insignificant.

Silver Sisters

This year the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence celebrates its 25th anniversary. Started in 1979, the Sisters quickly inspired groups all over the country, including the Sisters of Erotic Affirmation in Colorado, that had included our own Jim D, Sister Mary Opiate of the Masses. 

After their founding, the Sisters here went through many splits and permutations, so that their website doesn’t even mention some of our favorite moments in their history, which included Sister Boom Boom’s run for the SF board of supervisors in 1982, listing her occupation as “nun of the above.” Not only did she get 21,000 votes (almost enough to put her on the board), but she inspired the “sister boom boom” law that required candidates to use their legal names on the ballot.

The Sisters were very politically active in the 1980's here. When the archdiocese barred groups of gay catholics from meeting in churches and then the university of san francisco, they organized a demonstration outside of Sunday services st. mary’s cathedral, chanting that archbishop quinn, had “traded her sisters for a new red hat.” They helped organize demonstrations when the Queen of England visited SF (and the city had to construct a special bathroom for her in Golden Gate Park because the Queen can’t use any toilet ever used by another person). They also helped organize rallies against visiting X-tian dignitaries such as jerry falwell. When the AIDS crisis began, the Sisters turned much of their efforts to money raising and other AIDS work. They have continued their gentle attacks on X-tianity with their Easter parades and “hunky jesus” contests.

The Sisters didn’t invent gender-fuck, but they have certainly made a habit of it. We wish them another great 25 years.

CCCO GI Rights Hotline Training
630 20TH ST., SUITE #302, OAKLAND, CA.

A crucial element to slowing the military machine is helping individual GIs get out of the military! As CCCO has done since 1948, we are
supporting individuals in their resistance and opposition to war. In particular, we are standing with a group of people - GIs, whose
questioning and resistance are often forgotten during times like this.

Founded in 1994, the GI Rights Hotline, a coalition of non-profit, non-governmental organizations, provides accurate, comprehensive, and
objective information on draft registration, military discharges, civil rights in the military, and involuntary activation and deployment of
military personnel. The work we do and the information we disseminate are known to enlisted people in numbers far greater than the thousands
with whom we communicate personally.

We are seeking additional military counselors to volunteer on the Hotline. Tasks include answering live phone calls, returning phone
messages, responding to e-mail inquiries, and making referrals to relevant organizations and individuals. Volunteers make an initial 1
year commitment of at least 2 hours of service per week.

Pre-registration is required by April 30th. For more information, or to register for the training, call Teresa Panepinto at 510-465-1617 or 888-231-2226 or email teresa@objector.org

Education Not Incarceration

May 1, 2004 - Oakland
Oakland Tech High School
4351 Broadway, 10AM - 3PM

Join Education Not Incarceration's day of teach-ins and speaking out!
-Learn more about the link between cuts to education and rising prison populations in interactive workshops where everyone will be given a chance to speak.
-Create graffiti art, spoken word and video for the afternoon speak out where you can raise your voice for education not incarceration to invited elected representatives and officials.
-Child care and refreshments will be provided.
For more information Contact Rose at 510-444-0484 or e-mail rose@criticalresistance.org

Workers Comp Disabled

by Deeg

On April 9, a Cal/Trans worker fell to his death while painting on the Benicia Bridge. If this year is like other years, there will be more than 500 other workers who, according to the official statistics, will be killed on the job in California, and more than 5000 who will be killed on the job in the u.s. It is estimated that the world’s death total is two million workers each year.

Under the workers compensation system, the Cal/Trans workers’ family will be entitled to burial expenses of up to $5000, and a maximum death benefit of from $125,000 to  $160,000 (depending on the number of dependent children), paid in weekly installments of about 2/3 of his salary, up to $728 per week. If his family exhausts those benefit, and there are still minor dependent children, the benefits may be extended until the children reach 18.

Close to 700,000 California workers had workers comp claims in 2002 (the last year for which there are statistics available.) Depending on the industry you’re working in, your chances of ending up with an occupational injury or illness claim in any given year ranges from 2.1 per hundred workers (for engineers and technical services) to 14.1 per hundred  for hospital workers, and about 18 per hundred in ship-building, sawmills, bottled or canned soft-drinks, and state government health services. If injuries were randomly distributed among workers, that would mean that in a 30 year “working lifetime” (a statistical fiction, since most people work a minimum of 45 years), everyone has a better than 50-50 chance of being injured at least once.  I am currently getting treatment through workers’ compensation for a cumulative trauma injury (carpal tunnel syndrome caused by the lousy computer workstation at my job). Tom collected workers comp at the end of last year for a traumatic injury relating to lifting. And Kate collected workers’ comp a couple of years ago also for a cumulative trauma injury (caused by the lousy computer workstation at her job). So you’ll be pleased to know that we are keeping right up with the statistics.

According to the california chamber of commerce aka arnold schwarzeneger, the workers compensation system in California is a system “in crisis”. In fact, it is one of the most expensive systems in the country, and has one of the lowest benefit to premium ratios. It’s a billion dollar insurance market that since 1993 has been basically unregulated. So when the insurance companies took a hit in the stock market, they raised all the workers’ compensation premium rates to make up for it. (To be fair, they also raised the rates for health, malpractice, homeowner, automobile insurance.) If the workers comp market is sooo bad, and the insurers are losing so much money since the deregulation they demanded in 1993, why are they still doing $1.4 billion dollars of business here each year?

If anyone can understand the insurance companies’ pain, it’s arnold. According to the SF chronicle, he has collected more than $552,000 in campaign contributions from workers comp insurers since November. Despite his opposition to “special interests” like labor unions and environmental groups, he recently decided to keep a $100,000 donation from the American Financial Group, which collected $270 million in workers comp premiums last year in california, almost two percent of the market.

So after a zillion stories planted in the media at the end of last year about the workers’ comp crisis, the chamber/schwarzenegger, has mounted a full-out assault on california’s injured workers. Not content with the reductions made to the system under davis last year, which included limiting access to physical therapy and other treatments, california employers and insurers are now trying to eliminate almost all cumulative trauma claims by requiring that the physician determine that the injury was caused more than 50 percent by work. (While this may not seem so bad, doctors, particularly company doctors, are happy to cite various other contributing factors, including, in my case, my weight, my gender, any outside activities, bone structure, or just plain bad luck). The chamber also wants to force workers to see the company doctor indefinitely. (Right now, unless you have predesignated your personal physician, the employer can choose your doctor for the first 30 days in most cases, although there are some exceptions that allow the employer to choose the doctor for up to a year. After that, you can choose your own doctor.) They also want to establish a threshold for causation for single-event injuries, limit treatment to certain insurance company doctor established “guidelines,” and limit appeal rights.

The chamber/schwarzenegger are currently collecting signatures for an initiative they will file in mid-April if the legislature fails to enact these cuts. Schwarzeneger has contributed $1 million dollars of his campaign funds to that effort. Which makes it like a matching fund for insurance companies, they gave him $500,000, he gave them back $1 million. 

Here are two things that would really reduce workers comp costs:

1. Get the insurance companies out of workers comp, like Washington State, and have it be a state run program. Washington State’s benefits are higher, their costs are lower, and the program is also able to tie into their state OSHA program to target industries where injury rates are high.

2. Reduce injuries by improving heath and safety on the job.

Not even the state labor federation is demanding that California go to a state run program. Nor are they particularly pushing for a more effective OSHA program. Under all the recent  republicrat governors – wilson, davis, and now schwarzenegger the Cal/OSHA program has been cut almost to non-existence. At this point, there is one Cal/OSHA inspector for every 90,000-100,000 workers, a ratio worse not only than Canada, Washington, Oregon, and federal OSHA jurisdictions, but also worse than Singapore and China.  Depending on how you count people, there are between 176 and 183 field staff in the Cal/OSHA enforcement program. The federal government provides support to california for a staffing level of 238. But when recently queried about the disparity, Frank Stasheim, the federal OSHA administrator responsible for oversight of the Cal/OSHA program, said that the program’s effectiveness isn’t judged by the number of inspectors, and that he wasn’t worried about the state program not filling vacant positions.

According to the chamber of commerce’s website, 80 percent of Californians polled currently support the “reforms” they are proposing. The California Federation of Labor (state-fed) has a proposal that would re-regulate insurance company rates, and return injured workers to work (usually considered a management solution). If you’d like to see more about the state-fed’s program, check out www.calaborfed.org/issues_politics/Legislative/Labor_Solution_WC.html.

April 28 is workers memorial day, first celebrated in this country in 1989. The San Francisco Labor Council is calling for a rally at 4:30 that day, at a location still to be determined. If you’re interested, call them at (415)440-4809, or call LAGAI at (510)434-1304.

Board Doctors Measure A

by Tory

Measure A ‘The Essential Health Care Services Tax”, Alameda County’s  thoroughly regressive sales tax, passed by an overwhelming margin of 71% on March 2.  Many people worked hard on it, in a dubious coalition of stupervisors, county officials, doctors at Highland, rank and file at the medical center, SEIU  Local 616, Women’s Economics Agenda Project (WEAP), Vote Health, LAGAI-Queer Insurrection, and many other community groups.  Local 616 took the lead in organizing the grassroots support for the measure, in large part because the board of stupervisors was relying on the mass -mailing professional campaigner larry tramatola for his limited vision of a campaign.  What was missing was representation of people who spend a lot of time using the services at Highland, people who have many chronic health care conditions and no insurance, the people most impacted by cuts in services.  Although some community groups have become more involved through the Measure A campaign, the massive participation by communities most impacted is sorely lacking

Measure A  reads,  “... adding chapter 2.08 to the Alameda county ordinance code imposing a transaction and use tax for the purpose of providing additional support for emergency medical, hospital inpatient, outpatient, public health, mental health and substance abuse services to the indigent, low-income and uninsured adults, children, families , seniors and other residents of Alameda county.”

This initiative won so handily for one reason only, the people of Alameda County really want a functioning public hospital.  They know that the safety net of health care services is vital to every last one of us.  Alameda County Medical Center (ACMC )remains the only place to get medical care for people who don’t have insurance.  Until we have a true universal single-payer health care system in this country, which now promotes the profiteering from pain and disease, county/public hospitals are the last stronghold of free medical care.

The money from the initiative will be available in November of this year and 75% will go directly to the medical center.

On march 31st there was a  meeting, headed by Floyd Huen MD, once medical director at Highland and now newly revitalized self -styled savior of the county hospitals.  He and the other docs are taking a large hunk of credit for the winning of measure A and plan to control much of what happens from here on out.  The thrust of this followup committee which was well attended by  about 50 people, focused on the governance structure of the medical center. 

Five years after its inception against the people’s will, everyone seems to think, the separate entity,  the hospital authority is not working.  The board of stupervisors of course is in no way taking any responsibility for this mess even though, they created the authority.  At the time the authority was inflicted on the medical center,  we in the then active grassroots health care group  People United To Save Health care (PUSH), called for a Health Commission, along the lines of the San Francisco Health Commission.  Such a commission remains part of the county government and answers to the board of stupervisors, but has a built in structure for public input into every aspect of county health care. The b.o.s. would not be able to relinquish responsibility as they now try to do with the authority. This commission would be a governing body over all the agencies involved in health care in the county, including the public health department and behavioral care.  It would eliminate the health care agency and the evil dave kears its director.  Floyd Huen has just discovered this more progressive governance structure and is pushing it and plans to be appointed to it once it is adopted.

While the doctor led coalition worries about governance structure, all hell is breaking loose at the medical center.  A consulting group, cambio health solutions is now all but running ACMC.  I attended a meeting of the hospital authority in which they presented the first part of the “recovery” plan for the hospital. They clearly avoided presenting anything particularly controversial focusing on the need for better billing practices.  The hospital for years has lost millions of dollars in owed revenue because they have been unable to properly bill medi-cal.  This issue has been repeatedly and unsuccessfully raised by the unions over the years.  Cambio again threatened co-payments for non- emergent clinic visits, an idea opposed by Vote Health.  The current hospital authority was just overjoyed by the presentation, and said that they had never heard anything so clear and strategic before.  This is just nonsense. Its all been said, agitated, demanded, protested, and  lobbied by the many health care activists trying to save the county hospital. The board of stupervisors has been under- funding the hospital for years and now in this bush/schwarzenegger help- the- rich get more money era, the hospital is damn near on its last legs. The b.o.s., the hospital authority and cambio solutions of course ignore the fact that all the billing in the world won’t bring in enough money to care for a largely poor and uninsured patient population.

I spoke with my friend Ann, formerly from PUSH,  who works as a Physical Therapist at Highland. She paints a desperate picture in which any day 300-500 people will be laid off. Cambio is busy putting together a “productivity study”on which they will base the lay-offs.  The unions have been trying to temper cambio and are pushing for retraining and improved efficiency rather than lay-offs.  Ann says that cambio is ignoring the unions.

Ann also told me the real story about the “co-payments”.  What cambio and the hospital have already put in to motion is a draconian plan of deposits for people trying to access the Highland clinics, far worse than the initial co-pay idea.  People who do not qualify for the county indigent plan, i.e. the working poor, earning 200- 300% of the federal poverty level ( $37700 for a family of 4) will be required  to put a deposit of $60-$100 towards 25%-50% of the entire balance.  If the patient cannot pay the deposit and if it is non- emergent they will be turned away.  People needing more expensive testing such as MRIs will have to pay $250 deposits.  What kind of free safety net health care is this?  It is simply and clearly a way to discourage and prevent people from using the services of Highland.  Such a payment demand is against the mission of the hospital and is a colossal Fuck-You to the voters of Alameda county, who voted loudly in favor of their public hospital.

We need a health care revolution, a people’s movement to demand FREE  health care from Alameda County Medical Center.  We must make them implement Measure A and fund the county hospital now.  Enough is Enough.


Mosswood Park, McArthur and Broadway, Oakland

An open-air fair calling attention to the impact of US military presence in Okinawa, Korea and the Philippines on women, communities, and the politics of the region. Highlights include SPAM IRON CHEF (a legacy of US presence in Asia, SPAM has become a staple in the region. Bring your favorite SPAM dish for judging), talks on how the US military impacts Okinawa, Korea and the Philippines, cultural performances, games, and sports.

Organizers: GABRIELA Network, Korea Solidarity Committee, Nikkiis for Peace & Justice, Asian Pacific Islanders Coalition against the War. For more information and event details, please visit http://www.koreasolidarity.org/

Students and Parents Protest Over Gender Nondiscrimination Law

Reprinted from the GSA Network News

On Thursday, April 1st, nearly 1,000 parents, students, teachers, and  community members showed up in full force to the Westminster School  Board meeting to protest the actions of three board members who are  refusing to comply with the state gender non-discrimination policy  (AB 537).  The three Orange County school board members, who  represent the majority of the 5-person board, are refusing to adopt  the state's definition of gender, which includes actual or perceived  sex and a person's identity, appearance, and behavior that may differ  from a person's sex assigned at birth.  By refusing to be in  compliance with state law, the district risks losing all of their  federal and state funds, which could total $40 million of their $70  million budget.

The packed board meeting at Stacey Middle School in Westminster  included nearly 60 speakers, including outraged parents, teachers,  and students.  Several transgender community members spoke to rousing  cheers from the crowd.  Among the student speakers were Vanessa Coe,  a GSA Network student leader who attends high school in Orange  County, and an 8th grader who attends school in Westminster.  Everyone called on the school board members to get in compliance with  the state law before the deadline of April 12, to not put the school  funding at risk, and to fulfill their duty as school board members to  uphold the law and protect all students from discrimination.

A strongly worded letter addressed to the Westminster board from  State Superintendent Jack O'Connell was read aloud at the board  meeting.  O'Connell wrote,

"If you refuse, I will take all available steps to compel your  compliance.  Such steps may include witholding consolidated  application funds from your district in the current and/or future  fiscal years.  It would pain me to do that, since any loss of funds  potentially hurts the children of your district.  However, I will  move with deliberate speed if you challenge my authority.

"As one elected official to others, I frankly find your reluctance to  protect all of your children disturbing.  It is immoral and  unconscionable for elected officials to condone discrimination in any  form, and your actions not only condone it, they encourage it.  Moreover, to put the education of young people at risk in this manner  is indefensible."


By Chaya, Deni and barks from Mocha


The Dreamers  (Reviewed by Deni and Chaya)

This film about the late 1960s in France got some good reviews and was made by Bertolucci (who’s made some interesting movies) so we gave it a try. Parts of the movie drew us in (one sub-plot is the characters’ interest/obsession with cinema and old movie classics), but we had some reservations. After seeing the movie I (Deni) read some of my movie review sources which gave me more food for critical thought. The movie purports to be about the political and social upheaval and rebellions in France as seen through the eyes of an upper-middle class brother/sister duo and a young American male student they befriend. There’s a lot of pseudo-political and intellectual conversation, some street scenes of demonstrations in 1968 Paris (which is supposed to make you think our characters are politically involved, though they’re really just “armchairs”) and -oh yeah- a fair amount of nudity and sex. (Apparently in the book the 2 men have sex but we guess that was too dreamy for the film version.) In the end, it’s often pretentious and shallow, and we hold a special place in the Empty Biscuit Box for movies that use the politics of the ‘60s as simply a backdrop. Bertolucci ends the movie with Edith Piaf’s song ‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien,’ but we don’t think she had this movie in mind.

Goodbye, Lenin (Reviewed by Chaya and Deni)

If you’ve seen the coming attractions for this one, you’ve seen a lot of the best parts. An overlong, somewhat maudlin comedy about a son trying to recreate East Berlin before the fall of the wall. His attempt to save his mother from discovering the change from “communism” to “capitalism” that occurred while she was in a coma had some funny themes and lines, but they were often dragged out and overdone. Despite the somewhat interesting view into the lives of people undergoing this social and political change, it was disappointing.

Everyday People (Reviewed by Deni)

Saw this excellent film by Jim McKay in an SF International Film Festival preview (okay, it was for teachers, not film critics) and I hope it gets a commercial release. Placed within the theme of gentrification, the film deals with the closing of a multi-culturally staffed Jewish diner in Brooklyn and how the closing will affect the workers’ lives and the surrounding community. It handles complex issues of race and class in a progressive and moving way. Contradictions are explored with good acting and characterizations, and you’re left wanting more. Depending on when you get UltraViolet you might still be able to catch this movie at the Film Festival. It’s playing at the Kabuki on 4/16 and 4/18. Or maybe someday you can rent it – keep it in mind.


Watch out for the scary new Gmail service from Google. It plans to scan incoming emails (whether you have a Google account or not) so it can include “relevant ads” alongside incoming messages. For those of us getting hundreds of political emails a week, one wonders what ads they will send us (would an email about making signs for a demo also contain an ad for buying posterboard at Flax? would an email about the time of a meeting also have an ad for a Rolex watch?). Some pesky civil liberties activists here and abroad are concerned about invasion of privacy.  Just in case, in your future voluminous emails to The Mocha Column, please don’t mention, ummm, anything.

And again with Google: When people entered the keyword “Jew” during Passover week, the first listing in the search results directed them to an anti-Semitic site called Jew Watch. Notified of this, Google has said they can’t and won’t change the ranking for Jew Watch (which of course they could). What with the time and energy it takes to develop Gmail, they must be too busy to deal with this issue.

And finally, another media giant, AT&T Broadband, had to pay Albert Buonanno $150,000. He sued the company after they fired him when he refused to sign a diversity policy that required him to value the beliefs of others. The more we think about this situation, the more contradictions it brings up. It wasn’t that AT&T was asking Albert to value its health care take-back or globalization beliefs and policies. We could’ve supported him for refusing that. But no, Christian Albert was refusing to sign the diversity policy because he “cannot value homosexuality and any different religious beliefs.” He won on the grounds that “AT&T should not be able to force their beliefs on people.” Of course, we don’t support an employer’s right to require an employee to sign something about their beliefs (like the anti-communist loyalty oath of the ‘50s, when many lost their jobs for refusing to sign). But that’s different! … you may be thinking. Or is it? We hate to note that we’re beginning to sound like the ACLU to ourselves (yikes!) – agreeing with Mr. Pig Buonanno that “AT&T should be able to expect certain behavior from people, but not force their beliefs on people.”

DISCLAIMER: The fact that Deni used to work for AT&T in no way influenced our position. She hated all their policies.

Yes, yes, we saw Bob in the Victoria’s Secret TV ad. When the VS Creative Director approached Bob with the idea, he apparently said yes right away. We’re Dylan fans from way back, but you can’t say anyone ever listened to Bob for his progressive stance on women (‘Lay Lady Lay’ pops into mind). The story has generated some cute news headlines: “Dylan Goes Eclectic” and “Don’t Blink Twice.”

SPECIAL STALE BISCUIT AWARD: To Condoleeza Rice in the category of “Best Performance by a Woman in a Supporting Role.” She didn’t get an oil tanker named after her for nothing, you know. WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF

Bringing the endless tragedy of war home from New York to Iraq

 by Lisa B.

A story broke last week about depleted uranium (DU) exposure to at least 4 members of New York national guard company returning from Iraq.  If 4 new yorkers were exposed then we can only guess how many Iraqis have been as well. (Since no one is even counting civilian deaths it is too much to expect anyone to track contamination!)   These new yorkers are, in civilian life, mostly new york cops, firefighters and correctional officers, a group I generally harbor little sympathy for, but I do think it’s a crime that they were sent half-way across the globe to get exposed to toxic chemicals.

As many Ultraviolet readers know, depleted uranium is a waste product of uranium enrichment which is used to obtain weapons grade and reactor grade uranium for war and industry.  It is a very heavy metal (twice as heavy or dense as lead) that gives off significant amounts of radiation and is regulated as radioactive waste except when used in armaments!  About 15 years ago some idiot came up with the idea of using it in conventional weapons to make them more deadly and using it to “shield” armored tanks.  It actually works quite well for these tasks but leaves behind radioactive dust when it explodes in ammunition or in tanks that are damaged. 

The u.s. and britain have been using DU in combat since the first gulf war and have strewn it liberally throughout Iraq and Kosovo (they admit to using 127 tons in Iraq last year, and 320 tons in the first Gulf war 10 years ago).  Studies of civilians in southern Iraq noted increases in birth defects and infant deaths after the first gulf war – whether from other toxic exposure or DU exposure is hard to say.  Many suspect that Gulf war syndrome, which afflicts many vets returning from the first gulf war, may also be caused at least in part by DU exposure.

The contamination to these 4 new yorkers was found through independent testing and now the pentagon says it might test other returning troops although they refuse to believe that anyone could have actually been harmed by breathing in DU dust.  Of course, the u.s. has failed to conduct any long-term studies on the effects of low-level radiation – lets just spread it around the world first and ask questions later.  The few studies that have been done show that DU exposure can cause chromosome damage and one study found an unusual number of leukemia deaths among Italian soldiers who had served in Kosovo and were exposed to DU.  The European Parliament has called for a moratorium on the use of DU.

As much as I appreciate the irony of the pentagon’s best laid plans to kill and poison Iraqis blowing back on its own troops, I can take no joy in the poisoning of the earth and her peoples with toxic, radioactive waste that will remain deadly for generations.

Sick of Marriage? Move to Oregon!

Ok, I’m sure you’re all tired of the gay marriage saga but my favorite story is about Benton County Oregon where they stopped giving out all marriage licenses in order not to discriminate against gays and lesbians.  One bride-to-be was so miffed she forgot what the word “discrimination” means: “It’s not a nondiscrimination policy, it’s a full-discrimination policy.” Huh???

Since I’m politically against marriage as a state-sponsored institution (based on my passe feminist analysis that you cannot save an institution that was historically developed to clarify the ownership of women and children), I have tried to keep my head down when gay marriage comes up – on the other hand, I hate being told that lesbians and gay men can’t have everything that straight people have!  The oregon no-marriage or all-marriage solution seems perfect to me!

Imagine how this could transform the movement: no health care for anyone without health care for all; no food for anyone without food for all; no shelter for anyone without shelter for all!!  Crazy!!

Live from Palestine

by Josie

Things are pretty busy right now but I wanted to share a few thoughts  and experiences since it's been a while since I last wrote.  I went to a village near Jerusalem where work is beginning on the  apartheid wall on Wednesday. A man from the village called PENGON and  asked for Amira to come see what was going on. When we arrived the  bulldozers had already destroyed one family's olive grove and  soldiers were on several rooftops in the area. One man had built a  home in the middle of his land when he found out the wall was going  to cut through and take and/or destroy all of his land. He hoped that  by building his house he could persuade them to change the course of  the wall a bit and leave him some of his land. Instead he was  barricaded in his small home with soldiers stationed all around it  and I think they demolished it the next day.

A large group of shebab (young men and boys) had gathered to throw  stones but somehow the soldiers had maneuvered the crowd a ways down  the road from the work and so the destruction continued uninhibited.  First we went to the area where the bulldozers were and took photos  there. One of the men working came over to us and a journalist who  was also taking pictures and told us we shouldn't take pictures of  the work because the men doing the work were Palestinians and we  needed to respect their privacy. It was unbelievable. Here we were 50  meters from a woman who was hysterical and sobbing because they had  massacred her trees and she didn't know where her children had gone  and soldiers were stationed next to her house and he wanted people to  respect the privacy of the people running the machinery.

What was more unbelievable was the soldiers. They were firing tear  gas and percussion grenades at the crowds of shebab and then all of  the sudden switched to rubber bullets and then they switched to live  ammo. Just one after the other. Boom, boom, boom. So one minute you  were feeling like it was kind of a drag to be in a cloud of tear gas  and maybe your ears were ringing and ten seconds later someone is  rushed off in the ambulance after being hit by a live bullet. At one  point there was a 30-40 second burst of fire which means that the  soldiers really lost it. They're trained to shoot in rounds of three  because after that an M16 isn't accurate so when they shoot a bunch  of times it means they're out of control. But aimlessly shooting at  crowds of people is not an acceptable way to be out of control. It  makes me furious.

Ziad's niece was arrested two nights ago. They sent special units to  the house to take her away in the middle of the night which probably  means its serious for her. Almost all the Palestinians are tortured  in Israeli prisons (97% I think) but it's somehow harder for me to  deal with a woman being tortured. I guess because it most likely  means rape which is terrible and traumatic on its own but then  coupled with how this community views women who have been raped it's  too much. Rumor has it that someone gave them her name as a future  suicide bomber which if she confesses to (under torture) her home  goes on the list for demolishing. Right now there are 10-12 homes in  Dheisheh waiting to be demolished.

For a more uplifting note I'll talk about Manal. Manal is one of the  head members of the Ibdaa Women's Committee. I went to her house for  lunch on Sunday and learned more about what an amazing person she is.  She is divorced, which is INCREDIBLY uncommon, and has two children.  She left her husband when her daughter was only eight months old  making her a single mom, studying to get her master's degree and  working part time. And living in a community that thought she was  crazy for all of this. She said people talked about it for a few  years and then moved on but many people still ask her why she didn't  remarry. But if she were to remarry the courts would take her  children away. Even if the mother doesn't remarry the courts often  rule that the mother can keep the children until they are 12 or 14  and then when after she has done most of the work and they can  basically take care of themselves, they are handed over to the father. Anyways, Manal and the Ibdaa Women's Committee are phenomenal. They  are really ambitious and coordinate a lot of programs and much needed  services for the women like computer classes, parties for mother's  day (I think I wrote about that...), a program of lectures for young  women, the kindergarten and nursery, and much more. They are also  planning an enormous project of building a women's center to serve as  a gathering space for women since it is not generally acceptable for  them to be around men without a male family member escorting them. It  will house their current activities and new services such as mental  health counseling, a women's empowerment project, a computer center  specifically for women and girls and drop in childcare. I'm working  on a proposal for this right now so sorry if I'm gushing about it.  Mostly it's a really amazing endeavor and so I'm excited about trying  to get it going but also I think I get caught up in proposals because  I have to keep saying how great and necessary the services are and  then that permeates all of my thoughts.

A sidenote on a ridiculous situation created by the occupation: I was  in East Jerusalem for most of this week working at PENGON and on  Thursday I was going to meet a friend to see a movie. Around 4 on  Thursday I found out that Israel had changed its time several days  ago (still not entirely sure when) so it was one hour ahead of  Palestine. So then what happens to Jerusalem, a Palestinian city that  is under occupation and the official capital of Israel? I'd been  operating on Palestine time in East Jerusalem and hadn't even been  aware of the fact that a kilometer away the time was different. So  then I had to call the theater to see which time they were operating  on. I know there are plenty of things that are much more ridiculous  and probably more noteworthy but it was kind of a moment of "wow,  this place is completely absurd" for me. And a horrible/interesting  factoid is that the army makes special tanks that are designed for  refugee camps because the streets are so narrow in most of them.  The morning call to prayer just began so it's definitely time for  bed.

Josie is a member of QUIT! who is currently living in Dheisheh Refugee Camp near Bethlehem.

Baghdad Burning

Occupation Day - April 9, 2003

The last few days, I've been sorely trying to avoid a trip down memory lane. I flip the channel every time they show shots of Baghdad up in flames, I turn off the radio as they begin to talk about the first few days of occupation, and I quietly leave the room as family members begin, "Remember how…" No, I don't *want* to remember some of the worst days of my life. I wish there was some way one could selectively delete certain memories as one does files on a computer… however, that's impossible.

Today, I'm letting my mind wander back to last April quite freely. April 9, 2003 in particular. The day our darling Puppet Council has chosen to represent our 'National Day'… the day the occupation became not a possibility, but a definite reality.

The day began with heavy bombing. I remember waking up at 5 a.m. to a huge explosion. The hair almost stood on my head. We were all sleeping in the living room because the drapes were heavy and offered some small security against shattering glass. E. instantly jumped up and ran to make sure the Klashnikov was loaded properly and I tried to cover my cousin's children better with the heavy blankets. The weather was already warm, but the blankets would protect the kids against glass. Their older daughter was, luckily, still sound asleep- lost in a dream or nightmare. The younger one lay in the semi-dark, with eyes wide open. I sensed her trying to read my face for some small reassurance… I smiled tightly, "Go back to sleep…"


This excerpt is from a weblog posted by a young Iraqi woman living in Baghdad.  It’s a great source of first-hand information and vivid description of the ongoing atrocities in Iraq. www.riverbendblog.blogspot.com.

Is Israel really an apartheid state?

by Kate

The term “apartheid” is increasingly used to describe the social system in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  What was shocking in 1989, when the book Israel: An Apartheid State by israeli writer Uri Davis came out, is now commonplace.  PENGON, the Palestinian coalition leading the national campaign against the Wall early on named it the Apartheid Wall, and the name has thus crept into even israeli and u.s. mass media.  At least two op-eds published in major u.s. newspapers on the day the international criminal court hearings on the wall began in the Hague had the word “apartheid” in the title.

south africa passbookYet still, many people believe that calling israel an apartheid state is just a shock tactic, like calling cops fascists or nazis.  And even many of those who use the word do not know exactly what it means.  We know it has to do with the system of racial segregation South Africa used to practice, and we know that after a long struggle, it led South African athletes to be excluded from international competitions, international musicians to refuse to play in Sun City, and eventually even u.s. corporations to pull their money out of South African gold, uranium and diamonds, and stop selling their computers, tanks, etc. to the South African government. Some of us know that Black South Africans had to carry passbooks, which looked much like the color-coded ID cards Palestinians and israelis are required to carry at all times.  Some of us know that South Africa had segregated beaches, and that israel and Palestine have segregated highways.  We might know the word Bantustan; a few of us even know what a Bantustan was.

Palestine checkpoint idsSo is apartheid an appropriate word for the israeli system of repression and segregation, or is it just a way to piss people off?

On November 30, 1973, the United Nations General Assembly passed the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, which entered into force three years later.  This Convention declared that apartheid is a “crime against humanity” and “declare[d] criminal those organizations, institutions and individuals committing the crime of apartheid.”  The convention defined “the crime of apartheid”, as “similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practised in southern Africa,” which was convenient for the United States, which until shortly before that time openly practiced that same brand of racial segregation and discrimination, and arguably still does; but hey, it helps to be on the Security Council.

In fact, in terms of intent and methodology, the u.s. is a better analogy for the Israeli system than South Africa.  The South African system was all about maintaining a pool of  cheap laborers.  White South Africans did not want, nor would they allow Black South Africans to leave; they wanted to keep them impoverished enough to have to work in deadly industries, and frightened enough not to rebel.  The genocide and enclosure of the indigenous population, followed by expropriation of land and culture that took place on this continent is more closely akin to the israeli project of doing whatever it takes to drive the Palestinians off of their land.  Instead of talking about Bantustans and the Apartheid Wall, we should probably talk about reservations and the Manifest Destiny Wall.

Nonetheless, there are good reasons to make the comparison to South Africa, if it works.  Apartheid, according to the Convention,

“shall apply to the following inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them:

(a) Denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right to life and liberty of person:

(i) By murder of members of a racial group or groups;

·        2,780 Palestinians killed by israeli forces in the last three years (by population, this is comparable to 77,840 u.s. citizens).
·        Includes 670 under the age of 18 (= u.s. 18,760).
·        Approximately 13,000 Palestinians killed by israeli forces since 1948 (=u.s. 364,000)

(ii) By the infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups of serious bodily or mental harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

·        41,000 Palestinians seriously injured by israeli forces in the last three years;
·        Over 400 israeli checkpoints in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
·        Routine harassment and humiliation at checkpoints and roadblocks, including invasive searches, being forced to remove clothes or remain for hours in abusive positions
·        Over 15,000 Palestinian homes and businesses destroyed [in the last three years], hundreds of thousands of olive and citrus trees uprooted;
·        Villages and families subjected to collective punishment; Palestinians used as human shields in attacks against their communities

(iii) By arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups;

·        606 Palestinians held in administrative detention without charge (israeli citizens cannot be held in administrative detention)
·        15,000 Palestinians arrested or detained in last three years, almost half never charged with any crime
·        Over 1500 kids have been arrested since September 2000, mostly for alleged stone throwing.

(b) Deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part;

·        75% of Palestinian children living in poverty
·        51% drop in GNP since September 2000
·        During Oslo “peace process”, Palestinian standard of living declined by 20%
·        Over 67% unemployment in Gaza, 38% in West Bank
·        Segregation Wall cutting off 168,000 farming families from their lands
·        In the last year, 10,000 of 43,000 residents of the city have left because unemployment has soared to 80%.

(c) Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work, the right to form recognized trade unions, the right to education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association;

·        Denial of right to leave and return:  “In the past few years, more than one thousand Palestinian Jerusalemites have had their residency rights revoked (1047 acknowledged by the Israeli government). The current policy of the Israeli Interior Ministry maintains that any Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem who cannot prove that he or she currently lives there, who has lived abroad for more than seven years (in some cases even less), or holds a foreign passport loses the right to live in their birthplace.”  (UN report, June 1997)

·        Denial of right to education:  Since September 2000:

·        Denial of Right to Form Trade Unions:  “Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip who worked in Israel were not able to join Israeli trade unions or organize their own unions in Israel.  Palestinian trade unions in the occupied territories are not permitted to conduct activities in Israel” (US State Dept. report for year 2000).

(d) Any measures including legislative measures, designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups, the prohibition of mixed marriages among members of various racial groups, the expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof;

·        Over 400 fenced-in settlements in Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza, built on confiscated Palestinian land, Palestinians not allowed to live there;
·        According to Israeli organization Peace Now, Israeli government spends $500,000 for each settler who moves into Occupied Territories
·        Israeli settlement population in the West Bank doubled during the Oslo period, from 200,000 to 400,000
·        South Africa created “Bantustans” designed to wipe one million Blacks off of the map of South Africa, because they would technically be under “home rule.”  The current israeli-u.s. “unilateral disengagement” plan mirrors this exactly, creating islands of Palestinian “sovereignty” surrounded by israel, without international borders or and even the roads into them controlled by israeli troops.
·        Ehud Olmert, the most outspoken of Likud's leaders on the need for separation, said: "We are approaching a point where more and more Palestinians will say: 'There is no place for two states between the Jordan and the sea. All we want is the right to vote.' The day they get it, we will lose everything."

(e) Exploitation of the labour of the members of a racial group or groups, in particular by submitting them to forced labour;

This is the one element which I don’t think really fits.  As stated before, israel is really not interested in Palestinian labor; they want the land and they are importing plenty of others, from newly converted Peruvian Jews to Thai indentured servants, to do it.  However:

·        There are currently seven industrial zones in Occupied Palestinian Territories.  Most Palestinians in the OPT who have work, work in these industrial zones.  Several more are included in plans for the Wall.
·        According to the israeli workers rights organization, Kav L’Oved, “While Israeli workers in the occupied territories enjoy salary-related benefits as determined by Israeli law, Palestinian workers employed by Israelis in the occupied territories receive only what the Jordanian law mandated as it stood in 1967.”

(f) Persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid.

·        Organizers and activists are frequently arrested and held for a long time in administrative detention.
·        Ayad Morar, organizer of nonviolent resistance from Budrus, Ramallah, was arrested in January for being “anti-Israeli”.  A few weeks later, he was quoted in an Israeli newspaper as saying, “We are not against the Israelis and not against the Jews and not against the soldiers. We are only against the occupation. We are against the bulldozers.”
·        The government attempted to decertify all of the Palestinian candidates for seats in the israeli Knesset in 2003, claiming they violated israeli law by being opposed to a Jewish-only state.
·        Jewish israeli activists traveling outside the country are routinely subjected to lengthy interrogations and strip searches at the airport (recently documented in the israeli newspaper Haaretz).

Clearly, the apartheid shoe fits.  And it’s a powerful analogy to use, not only because it does evoke a strong emotional reaction in people who care about justice, but because it reminds us that a unified international campaign to apply real pressure can bring real results.

Divestment and international boycotts were key in bringing down South African apartheid.  Many people, from Bishop Tutu to a group of 21 israeli scholars, have pointed this out in calling for a strong international boycott and divestment from israel.

Ehud Olmert acknowledged the parallel himself, saying "I shudder to think that liberal Jewish organizations that shouldered the burden of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa will lead the struggle against us."

The struggle for divestment from South Africa was not won easily.  It was ten years from when it began, in 1976, until the first significant wave of divestment in 1986.  By the end of ten years, the Palestinians might be as close to wiped out as the Native Americans (95% of 12,000,000 people annihilated).  We cannot wait; we need to reinvigorate the movement for divestment from israel now.