Category Archives: Dec/Jan 2005 (12/2/04)

Between Iraq and a Hard Place

The US is not in control of Iraq, thanks to overwhelming resistance. Contrary to US claims, the insurgency is primarily Iraqi, enjoys wide societal support, spans religious and ethnic lines, and is only growing stronger. As Iraqis struggle to make ending the occupation a key issue in the upcoming elections, people wonder if the elections will actually resemble anything mildly democratic. Iraq is one mess the US made but cannot clean up; the US is the mess.

The US may be winning battles, but it is losing the war. Every time the US destroys a city — the mosques, random homes, hospitals — more resistance fighters stand up. With the hearts and minds battle lost long ago, US strategists want overstretched US troops to continue random carnage and destruction in search of “terrorists.” But it’s the US commanders who are committing the war crimes. The ruling class interests fueling the war — the desire to control not only the oil reserves but also the Chinese and European economies dependent on the same stock — won’t give up. The US strategy for control works only when everybody’s playing the same game, imperial capitalism. The Iraqi people aren’t playing this game; they’re not being proper pawns, in fact they’re shoving Improvised Explosive Devices up the butts of the US. The US strategy is failing.

Who is this resistance? An inventory of groups from Sept. 19, 2004 published in the Baghdad paper Al Zawra lists three main Sunni coalitions, two Shi’ite militias, and nine groups tactically based on kidnappings. Four of the latter are specifically associated with Al-Queda, like Zarqawi’s cell which has become the recent terrorist darling of the US media. The kidnappers do not enjoy as much popular support as the other groups: “Without a shred of evidence, Bush, Blair, and [Iraqi president] Iyad Allawi’s quisling regime shamelessly declare that they are only pursuing the Jordanian kidnapper Zarqawi and other ‘foreign terrorists,’“ writes Sami Ramadani in the Saudi Arabia-based Arab News. “The people of Falluja, their leaders, negotiators and resistance fighters have always denounced Zarqawi and argued that such gangs have been encouraged to undermine the resistance.”

Although the US media repeatedly has said the resistance is the work of Saddam’s Ba’ath party, sources differ on the strength of these ties. Several of the smaller Sunni factions are opposed to Saddam, while groups that are explicitly Ba’athist reportedly are involved in supplying weapons and financing the operations, rather than actual fighting. Sunni groups tend to use offensive, guerrilla warfare tactics of attacking when the enemy is weak and then slipping away. Sunni Muslims, who comprise 20% of the Iraqi population but were in power with Saddam, may lose significant influence if an elected government reflects the 60% Shi’ite majority.

The main arm of Shi’ite resistance is young fundamentalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s militia of poor urban youth. Shi’ite leaders, particularly the head cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, generally have not directly targeted the occupation. Al-Sadr did criticize the occupation and his group repeatedly has been targeted by US forces, starting with the closing of his newspaper and culminating in a violent fight and cease-fire in the Shi’ite holy city of Najaf at the end of August.

Unifying the resistance

In a context where the traditional internal divisions can only aid the US, several groups are working to unify the resistance. Muslim scholars emphasized avoiding sectarian conflict as they issued a fatwa (religious edict) November 20, calling resistance to occupation forces a religious duty for all Muslims. “Iraq today is targeted by a serious conspiracy that aims at destroying its social structure, even if it remains as one state. This would be by stirring up sectarian and ethnic strife and augmenting the points of disagreement. Religious and national duty requires that such differences be renounced. Everybody should be united to expel the occupation and build a unified Iraq for all its population,” said the statement from the International Federation of Muslim Scholars. They condemned hostage-taking, attacks on media and humanitarian workers, and said prisoners of war should be treated well.

The widely-supported Iraq National Foundation Congress sponsors joint Sunni-Shia prayers, a key force in the 1920 revolution that ended colonial British rule. Established in July of this year, the group brings leftists, Kurds, and Christians together with pre-Saddam Ba’athists and members of powerful Sunni and Shia cleric associations. Although the Congress does not reject armed resistance, it advocates peaceful resistance instead of fundamentalist militias like Al-Sadr’s. In an interview with The Guardian (UK), Congress spokesman Wamidh Nadhmi said the real division in Iraq is not between Arab and Kurd, Sunni and Shia, or secular and religious, but between “the pro-occupation camp and the anti-occupation camp. The pro-occupation people are either completely affiliated to the US and Britain, in effect puppets, or they saw no way to overthrow Saddam without occupation. Unfortunately, the pro-occupation people tend not to distinguish between resistance and terrorism, or between anti-occupation civil society and those who use violence.” Sheik Jawad al-Khalisi, general secretary of the Congress, points out, “The media focus on violence, and the generally positive foreign coverage of the efforts of Ayad Allawi’s new government “to defeat the insurgency,” has created a false impression that the government’s opponents use only force, and those who support peace support the government, and so the occupation.”

The resistance is not limited to extremist fringes of society, as US media coverage suggests. It includes Arab nationalists, Muslim mujahideen, and Iraqis not particularly religious but “outraged to see their country’s resources robbed while they live in slums, drink water mixed with sewage and have no say in the political process,” Haifa Zangana writes in The Guardian. Thousands of people demonstrated across Iraq in support of Falluja, a city that never fully submitted to either colonial British rule or to Saddam’s regime.

“Iraqis are not focused on whether things would be better had the invasion not happened. What they want to know is how and when the manifestly unsafe world they face every day… is going to change. They also constantly argue whether the presence of foreign forces makes it better or worse,” notes The Guardian’s Jonathan Steele.

Radical Islamic cleric Al-Sadr has earned wide support not for his religious views per se, but because he has been repeatedly targeted by the US. The continual rampage by US troops appears to be pushing public opinion towards fundamentalism: February polls reported only 21% of Iraqis wanting an Islamic state, up to 70% by August. These polls didn’t make the important distinction between a radical and a moderate Islamic state, but the trend is clear. According to Sheikh Khalisi, “Iraqis are looking for security, and can be seduced by hope. Extreme dictatorships are always formed in a context when nations seek stability. It happened when the shah took power in Iran, with Ataturk in Turkey, and Saddam Hussein here.”

Elections

Groups like the Iraq National Federation Congress would like the elections set [as of press date] for January 30 for 275 National Assembly members to focus on ending the occupation. Key players in the election span the country’s religious and ethnic groups, and the potential for a representative democracy exists. But CIA tampering seems imminent. Ahmed Chelabi, the old Pentagon favorite, has been befriending Shia power structures and may end up in the new government even though he is not respected by many Iraqis.

“Bush and Blair are terrified of the Iraqi people voting for anti-occupation leaders. They will accept nothing short of the legitimization, through sham elections supervised by the occupation authorities, of an Allawi-style puppet regime,” writes Sami Ramandani. “How much more should the Iraqi people be subjected to for Bush and Blair to have their ‘democratically’ chosen puppets installed in Baghdad?”

A wide variety of Iraqi organizations are calling for a boycott of the elections, while an equally wide assortment of groups are running candidate lists. The US press says the boycott merely reflects minority Sunni fear that they will lose power to a Shia-dominated government — but boycotting groups say legitimate elections are impossible under US occupation. As of press date, it appears possible that elections will be postponed in the hope that security can be improved, although if the occupation continues, it is hard to see how that could happen. Two senior Sunni clerics were mysteriously assassinated in early November after their organization called for the boycott — an organization actually created by US-led forces after Saddam’s ousting to fill an anticipated Sunni power vacuum, according to al-Jazeera.

The solution is extremely complicated. The US expects ethnic and religious groups with a centuries-old history of conflict to unite graciously and form a ‘representative democracy’ — with massive slaughter and carnage committed by US troops glowing rosily in the background. The US has created a gaping wound in Iraq; continued foreign military presence can only exacerbate the situation. The United States should pull out immediately and let the Iraqis pick up the pieces from Saddam themselves.

Apparently the US enjoys staring down the throat of a fourth world war, as neocon Frank Gaffney, one of the Project for a New American Century crew, speculates grandly. Everytime Bush mentions bombing Iran, the prospect of regional war increases. The US government likes having a war on, because it’s a grand excuse for all sorts of civil liberties clampdowns and defense spending. Crisis stimulates capital. But the truth is the US does not have enough troops to fight more than one major war at once. A draft is unlikely, imperial inclinations and rumors aside; the poverty draft is working well enough. An official draft would bring the war home to the middle classes, potentially sparking the kind of sixties-style anti-war movement that could stop the war.

What if there was armed resistance on US soil like that in Iraq? Iraqi people want an end to violence; many people there just want to get on with their lives with some degree of safety and stability. People in the US, particularly the middle and aspiring middle classes, have the ability to just get on with their lives, even as the government here creates a disastrous mess elsewhere. A recent CNN/USA Today poll reports almost half the people in the US think it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq. What are these 125 million people doing to stop the war?

Anti-war people can’t be stymied by the gross destruction, or by the mind-boggling complexities of the occupation. We don’t know how to stop the US government, but neither do they know what they’re doing. They didn’t plan the war well, and they don’t know how to counter the strong and creative resistance in Iraq. Yet they plow ahead, dogmatically following capitalism’s edict to build a puppet democracy on a foundation of dead Iraqi bodies. Unlike government bureaucrats, we don’t have to numbly stumble along in our daily lives, because we have a million people and therefore a million ways to resist the war. Just like there’s not one group masterminding the resistance in Iraq, there’s not a blueprint for the anti-war movement here at home, so we should stop looking for it and follow our own hearts and minds. If we turn up the volume, doing all we can to stop the occupation within the context of our daily lives, the resistance here will be so varied and unpredictable that it will be the definition of political instability.

Ultimately, the US can bomb the shit out of Iraq only as long as troops there cooperate and things remain stabilized — paralyzed — stateside. The troops are voting with their feet; of 4,000 reservists recently called to serve, 1,800 filed lawsuits against the military, and 700 simply didn’t show up. A National Guard unit recently refused its mission. When will we wake up here at home?

Let’s Get Freaky

A call for diversionary tactics

In the wake of the election, wingnuts – already teetering on the fringes of reality – have got our work cut out for us. If in fact we now face the prospect of a Christian fundamentalist assault on abortion, gays, birth control – probably alcohol, drugs and porn, too, if they get a chance – then it’s high time to begin a counter-offensive — the best defense is a good offense!

Folks on the extreme fringes have a crucial role right now — which is to be on the extreme fringe and keep the political spectrum as wide as possible. The right-wing would like to move the debate ever further to the right – so that fringe issues and in fact fringe reality doesn’t even exist. If this happens, what are now the moderate issues could become the far-out end of the political continuum.

For example, Bush is believed to have used the gay marriage issue to help him win the election. We have to keep in mind that gay marriage is essentially an attempt by the more mainstream wing of the gay movement to assimilate into the mainstream – to be entitled to everything “normal” people are entitled to. That is cool and a worthy goal – but on the fringes, we have to recognize that winning gay marriage isn’t the radical forefront – having polyamorous, gender traitorous orgies in the streets is more like it. Right now, mainstream civil rights groups are talking about how they’re going to avoid pressing demands for gay marriage for the moment, because the movement for gay marriage is creating a perfect wedge issue. That is a calculation by responsible folks – many of whom have “activist” jobs with non-profits. Out on the fringes, reality looks a little different – those Christians would be begging gays to have nice, monogamous, suburban lives if they realized the alternative options for queer chaos. If gay marriage is a threat to het marriage, doesn’t polyamorous sexual chaos represent an even greater threat?

If you want equal rights for gays to be “normal” people, then the offensive strategy is to fight for the freaks. If you want to stay on the defensive, then do what the moderates do – pull gay marriage off the table because it might offend the Christian right, and see if you can work on subtle changes to the tax code or whatever to provide more space for folks in civil unions.

The same theory works for most issues – Earth First! or the Earth Liberation Front define the fringes of the environmental movement while the Sierra Club engineers sensible compromises that usually leave the earth worse off. Playing defense is always going to get us the crumbs. The Christian right didn’t win the last election by playing defense – they fought for what they actually wanted. The fringe is always tiny and marginalized, and usually has influence far beyond its apparent marginalization. Those of us on the fringe have to remember that as millions of Kerry voters sink into a post-election depression — we have to avoid catching their negative energy.

Radicals in America have a lot to learn from the rebels in Iraq. When you’re battling an empire, a lot of times it’s not the best idea to launch a frontal assault on heavily armed troops. Instead, the guerrilla looks for weak spots, looks to distract the enemy from it’s main goal, looks to move in the shadows until the crucial moment. Being a radical in America, we share a common struggle with the rebels in Iraq – we reject the brutal American empire and its occupation of our homes. But conditions are not precisely the same — conditions are totally inappropriate for tiny bands of youth to “go underground” and take up small arms in the USA. That may sound romantic to a few people, but a romantic suicide doesn’t help anyone. However, the root of guerrilla tactics still apply – we need to pick fights that favor our spontaneity, flexibility, the element of surprise and our other strengths and avoid battles on terrain chosen by the rulers.

When a baby wants to play with a hot fire place poker, you try to distract the baby with something a little safer, like a rattle. The right wing wants to spend the next four years going after abortion, gays and women. The fringe has an opportunity to distract them and force them to waste their energy instead of using their time effectively. So like the guerrillas in Iraq, who launched an uprising in Mosul while US forces invaded Falluja, as wingnuts we ought to be figuring out diversionary attacks that we can mount against religious fundamentalists, rather than spending the next four years in a defensive mode trying to preserve a mainstream status quo.

I’ve been trying to think of actions designed to be so outrageous that the right-wing would be forced to drop what they want to do to stop them. Even if such actions don’t work as diversions, they can help keep the political field broad and let freaks everywhere know that we’re not alone, and we’re not going away!

But figuring out appropriate actions is hard when the stakes are high and your main strengths are humor and being a total freak — you don’t want to just have a really outrageous Sodomy in the Streets (SITS) party while the US empire is shooting civilians in Iraq. My friend thinks we could disrupt reality by going around the country planting marijuana seedballs so pot would start growing everywhere like the weed it is. Cute idea, but let’s be serious.

Another idea I had right after the election was to mount a campaign of Bible Burning. Remember a few years ago when the political establishment had to drop what it was doing to try to stop flag burning? For some reason this totally symbolic act by a tiny number of wingnuts drove the political establishment nuts. So I was thinking, if flag burning drives ‘em crazy, how about Bible burning? But I think this is probably not a great tactic for a few reasons: it’s scary and negative, evoking images of Nazi book burnings, it ignores the liberatory threads of some religious folks, and it only highlights what we’re against, not what we can be for. I do like it because it could be an insane diversionary tactic – wouldn’t it be great if church groups spent time banning bible burning instead of banning abortion? We need to be creative, but also be thoughtful and not allow our own fear and prejudices to lead us into our own intolerant actions. Intolerance is a far greater threat to the fringe than to the mainstream.

Because we’re in the belly of the beast here in the U$A, we have a crucial role – determination and even some discipline are in order. We have to use all means at hand in the struggle – a wide variety of tactics gives us the best chance to discover what will work.

After turning it over in my mind for the past few weeks, I have to admit that I have no idea what kind of actions we need to be up to, but I’m pretty sure we need to try some new things. The night after the election, the usual suspects gathered on Mission Street in San Francisco to protest, but this response seemed weak and somehow inappropriate. We shouldn’t stop protesting and resisting, of course, but couldn’t we be a little less ritualistic? If we have rallies and protests to lift our spirits, act in solidarity with peace and freedom loving people outside the USA, and show that there are alternatives to the grim drumbeat of war and capitalism, that is great. But our protests need to serve our own purposes — traditional protests seem less relevant at the moment.

I think the best hope is for lots of people all over to think of some new ideas and try some freak experiments — and then report the results to everyone else. Decentralization and diversity are strengths in uncertain times. Seize the moment and let your freak flag fly!

The A in Family

In order to create a bridge between self-determining individuals and community people need family. Whomever it’s comprised of; whether the ties are blood or choice, we are shaped and supported throughout our whole lives by family.

I struggle with the family aspect of being an anarchist precisely most of the family I have are not radicals. The people who would bail me out of jail or visit me everyday in the hospital or cook me dinner if I had a baby don’t understand anti-capitalist libertarianism. But I love them, and must somehow bridge myself into my community with this “foreign” family.

How do I do this? I find more people within my community to take on those roles. I put more of myself into my affinity groups than just the work that needs to be done. I double up on role models, so that I have my grandfather of blood and my grandfather of radical faerie empowerment.

A century ago in the States, family was several generations thick, several degrees of cousins wide and capable of adopting orphans, “godchildren” and unmarried friends. With the rise of industrial labor, families changed as they moved to find work. Developers created single family housing for the masses, and the suburbs were born. From the fifties onward, media and the economy have impressed that the fam is just ma, pa, your siblings and the dog. Moral conservatives who fight for a return to “family values” are responding to this degeneration of support networks. They just offer alternatives unpalatable to many queer, open or radical people.

Anarchist family, for me, is the multigenerational network of people who support, teach, challenge, love, encourage, rely on and accompany us through parts or all of our lives. We make a family of our hearts when our blood kin–by death, distance or dysfunction–can’t be with us. In short, who would you cry with?

I have heard people lament over the imbalance of generations within anarchism, within every scene. People note that we lack a connected community of older (like, post-menopausal) radicals who can offer wisdom and tactics, as well as children with whom we practice our consensus and commitment to self-determination. Yes, radicals have kids and yes, radicals are grandparents but our movements are still youth centered. Communities of mature radicals won’t intersect completely with communities of younger radicals—socially or politically—so we must find other ground to meet on. We can appreciate the experience and company of people at a different stage of life without needing to be the same. If we generally lack role models and youth we foster, how are we to improve our practice of anarchism with each generation?

The healthiest forms of non blood anarchist family I’ve seen are collective houses that intentionally interweave their lives. Besides having physical space to gather, houses have the informal contact that make intimacy possible and support easier to ask for. It can be easier to break out of loneliness when you’ve only got to go downstairs to dinner.

Outside of houses, long-term collectives are the anarchist structure best suited to “family building.” We had a big transformation last year at Slingshot, when we finally spent more time hanging out than working on the paper. When life’s serious shit descended on several of us, it wasn’t awkward to ask for support. In fact, it would have been awkward not to ask for support. That was when I knew that my family had grown.

By no means do anarchists have a monopoly on chosen families. Churches, unions and social clubs have taken the place of blood family, especially in the twentieth century. A family can be created by any group with affinity, given that it satisfies certain needs. First, people must be held together by a purpose. In blood families, it can be as simple as obligation, but it can be complex. People must have incentive to care for one another, and the care must be reciprocal. Often, we are cared for by family in our youth and then return that love later on when the people who foster us get older. There must also be space and time for regular intersection and a culture to hand down. Families have stories of origin, and of the joys and sufferings shared, as well as a reason why they are unique and important. The stories may change, but they must be passed on.

The public debate on family doesn’t address our need for support in the face of economic or emotional privation. When the religious right talk about “family values” and “preserving family,” the overtones of sexism and heterosexism make debating that much more difficult. However, addressing the fears about love and support are simple. If a family is held together by patriarchy and guilt, it probably isn’t satisfying to be a part of. We can never be obliged to love and we can never regulate true family. We will find a way to be ourselves within our blood families or we will find families that love us as we are or we will do both. Maybe so many people pass through radical scenes but settle for boring jobs and weekends mowing the lawn because there is no family ready-made to be had around here, just the ingredients for one tailor-made. They fall prey to the mainstream narrative that family is a little nuclear clique. We must each choose (mutually) our mentors, our teachers, our sibling-peers and the people we will encourage in turn.

Let your redefinition of family be a step toward a more radical world. Invite fellow radicals closer, and share, in small ways at first, anarchism with your existing family. Think about what culture your families have given you and what you want to pass on. We need to hand different stories and values to the next generation, and first we must make them family.

I wanted to write about family because of my twelve cousins. We played and feasted together every Sunday until I was twelve. They taught me fun, cooperation, mischief, solidarity, and love. And though we now gather only once every few years, they are people who know me beneath the skin and love me still. It’s never hard to come back together. I find relief knowing that they are in the world, and hopefully it is mutual.

Slingshot Box

Slingshot is an independent, volunteer-run, more-often-than-quarterly radical newspaper published in the East Bay since 1988.

You’ll notice that this issue is slightly shorter than usual — only 12 pages. Slingshot has been publishing more often (every two months) and our distribution keeps improving, but one critical deficiency has been good articles to publish. We get a lot of submissions, but almost all of them are rants, which isn’t really what we’re looking for. What we need is hard-hitting, well researched and carefully reasoned articles that address the critical political situation we’re in. Between the war, the increasing tide of right-wing religious intolerance, prisons and the continuing environmental crisis, radical media like this paper are important. We want it to be as well written and relevant as possible. If you’re thinking of writing something, the article “Media that inspires action” on this page contains a few ideas about the kind of articles we would like to see. Send something or call us.

A lot of heavy shit is going on in the world right now, and while we were creating this issue, some of us felt a kind of personal/ political crisis because we couldn’t seem to figure out how to publish the kind of powerful, radical response to these events that we had hoped for. So this is our best shot. Given all the death and destruction going on right now — not to mention Bush’s reelection — you’ll probably join us in finding this issue a bit fluffy. But we’re happy that at least it isn’t negative or depressing. And some of the articles, after a lot of editing and revisions, are turning out really great.

Part of the reason this issue felt like a crisis to some of us is that creating Slingshot is a cathartic personal and political process. When scary political stuff happens — the war in Iraq, 9-11, domestic political crackdown — it is easy to feel totally powerless. But then we remember “oh yeah, at least we have a paper so we can respond!”

By writing our Slingshot articles, we try to work through the political situation in our minds and regain our sense of courage and pragmatic optimism. We spell out our vision for a different world. While we can’t always realize this vision right now, a lot of times putting it on paper makes it clear that we are living little pieces of that vision all the time without realizing it — that change is happening and that we’re participating in the struggle everyday. We recognize that we’re far from powerless and that we’re not alone. We hope you’ll join us in this process of searching, writing, inspiration and ultimately, action.

This issue marks the return of Spanish translation pages, which took a vacation last issue. A huge thanks to the numerous translators who made this possible on short notice and under stressful conditions. Including the Spanish translations is extremely challenging — we dream of having a more consistent and stable translation committee that could make the Spanish pages a routine part of our process, instead of a mini-crisis that gets repeated each issue.

As always, editorial decisions are made by the Slingshot collective, but not all the articles reflect the opinions of collective members. We welcome debate, constructive criticism and discussion.

Letters

Hi there Sling Shot folks,

I’m eagerly awaiting my very own copy of the 2005 Slingshot Organizer. A friend of mine got an organizer early, and showed me the section on Emergency Contraception. I was really excited to see that you included this information, since it is one of my personal favorite medical topics. I did notice that some of your information was debatable if not inaccurate, and I wanted to let you know.

In the section on the pharmaceutical forms of emergency contraception (EC), there were two things that I noted:

  • You state that EC prevents implantation of a fertilized egg. Actually, we don’t know exactly how EC works – it may prevent sperm from moving through the uterus to the tubes, it may prevent ovulation or fertilization directly, or it may prevent implantation. Some people take these distinctions very seriously – they make the difference between EC being an acceptable form of contraception, or an unacceptable form of early abortion. Because you only mention the prevention of implantation, some people may not use EC based on their political or religious beliefs.
  • You state that anyone who has contraindications to using oral contraceptives should not use EC. Actually, since EC is only used once, and does not expose a woman to long-term hormones, the ONLY generally accepted contraindication to using EC is current pregnancy.
  • Finally, there is a great EC resource available, at “1-888-not2late” – people can learn of health care providers in their area who will prescribe EC.

Thanks again for including EC info in the Slingshot Organizer – it is really important information that can make a huge difference in people’s lives. If you ever want/need a medical consultant or reviewer I’d be more than happy to help out. I am a family physician MD, newby herbalist and street medic. In solidarity, eowyn rieke

Slingshot response: We’re grateful for the update on ways to get EC and when you can take it. We believe that all forms of safe birth control are acceptable and that only a woman (with her doctor) can decide what’s right for her. All the ways EC may work prevent implantation, which is when an abortion becomes medically necessary. Thanks for your input!

A message on the Slingshot voicemail box . . .

hey who wrote the roadkill [inaudible - article?] The same people who drive the cars are the same people with eyeballs in their head that got their license because they’re eyeballs work and they’re the same people who are looking at the beast. You actually do computers and you don’t do cars? What the fuck is wrong with you people?! [phone slammed down]

Dear Slingshot:

I need to throw in an alternate response to the previous Slingshot article on road kill. I am a vegetarian and an animal lover and the idea that I could see a dead critter as my next pair of pants is too much. I have worked for years to buck myself up enough to remove sweet smashed and bloodied beings from the middle of the road, off the manmade surface — the death strip — back to the earth where they can decompose and go back into it, as the closed circle always does. It is hard but it’s an opportunity to apologize to them for my part, to pay respect to their sweet bunny souls, and to save other critters. Very often other animals will be killed because they are smelling or eating the critter in the road. It’s the very least I can do, being a human after all. But doing the very least just won’t do!

— Bunny lover

Media That Inspires ACtion

When you’re running a project, it’s good to re-think its purpose from time to time. The Slingshot collective spends a ton of time, energy and money to publish this paper every two months — there are already tons of folks publishing papers everywhere and lots of stuff to read on the internet — what is special about Slingshot that justifies all this work?

One big purpose of Slingshot is to go beyond just providing information and analysis about social issues and provide some inspiration. Every day the mainstream press is full of articles about problems. The alternative press is at its best when it goes beyond just talking about problems and instead points to solutions — areas available for struggle, the development of new and creative tactics, hopeful stories about people who are changing things. Lets face it — a lot of people know we’re facing problems, but usually, this awareness just makes people feel hopeless and trapped — paralyzed. “Well, if the world situation is fucked, I may as well forget about it and enjoy myself while I still can.” The most important thing alternative press can do is figure out how to move people from disempowerment and resignation to action!

In figuring out how to inspire and motivate, the alternative media needs to figure out who to talk to, how to talk to them, what to say and how to say it — what is the audience? Slingshot has no formal “party line” on these questions or any others, but generally, the most important audience is not people who are already inspired and motivated to act — it’s folks who could potentially be sympathetic and active, but haven’t yet made the step from critique to action. Folks who were active at one point, but who’ve become discouraged or withdrawn is another important audience. Politically, the most crucial audience are folks who are concerned about single issues or skeptical about the social direction, but who haven’t developed ideas about answers — what could be done, what would a new society look like, how can people organize to create change? Radical media can point out connections between seemingly distinct issues and social problems — a lot of problems and solutions come down to a critique of authority, hierarchy, power, dehumanizing structures, economic and technological systems. Folks who were raised as liberals — with some faith in the government and the system — but who are realizing the flaws in these systems should be a key audience for radical alternative media.

How to address an audience, what to say, and how to say it are crucial questions. For me, an ideal radical article contains four parts. First, it ought to contain an analysis of a particular aspect of social reality that looks at the problem or phenomenon from a new angle or in a way that goes beyond “common wisdom” about the issue. Second, the article should suggest solutions, not just point out how fucked up things are. Third, the article should inspire folks to actually do something. Just understanding an issue and knowing a theoretical solution is not enough. Each of us has numerous opportunities during our lives to change, grow and struggle. A great article will connect solutions to these opportunities. Finally, the best articles have heart and are personal. Increasingly, this society is functioning like a huge computer in which each of our lives is harnessed to perform limited operations within the machine — going to work, consuming, reproducing, playing by the rules. We need media that goes beyond an academic, cold discourse and touches what is really human, precious and unique about each of our lives.

It is so disappointing when alternative media attempts to use the master’s tools of rhetoric and style. We can never smash an inhuman system by conforming our lives, ideas, or language to its standards. The society we seek is one in which people do it ourselves — full of art and chaos. Media that is so computerized that you have to read it carefully to see that it is talking about revolution doesn’t feel very revolutionary. Some activists want our media to look professional, clean and orderly, but a professional, clean orderly world is what we seek to smash. People feel inspired when they see a fully human, messy, chaotic world represented on paper. Alternative media at its best, and hopefully Slingshot, help provide such inspiration in these scary times.

Children of a Revolution

The Childcare Collective and Social Movement

If our children despise us, our movement will end.

I’ve been volunteering with the Childcare Collective for the past five months and every so often my phone rings or I get an e-mail saying, ‘here are some childcare opportunities…’ It’s kind of like being a spy, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…” I never know quite what to expect when I do a childcare gig, but I always look forward to that rewarding feeling I know will be there when I’m done. But, I’ve started to realize that there’s a lot more going on than free, volunteer based childcare. I’m starting to understand the bigger picture. I’ve been doing childcare in some form on and off for the past six years. When I moved to the Bay Area I hoped to keep doing so; that’s when I found the Childcare Collective. I thought, ‘Great, here’s a chance to keep working with kids.’ I didn’t think about the political aspect or how it might serve a social movement, which comes solely from the people. I just wanted to work with kids because I’ve always found it rewarding and fulfilling. But now, well, now I go to marches or rallies or events, and I see kids that I’ve worked with through the Collective. I say hi to them and they know my name. It feels like community; like I’m helping to build something strong.

In 2002, a group of folks, working in San Francisco with the Women’s Collective of the San Francisco Day Labor Program, was inspired by the importance of quality childcare and the obvious lack thereof. Using the original model of the School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL)–a training program for aspiring organizers and activists–they came together to form the Childcare Collective in the Bay Area. The vision was to provide free, conscientious, and stable childcare to those who need it the most. But who exactly is that? The obvious answer is, of course, parents. But in today’s oppressive regime, there are so many parents who need childcare but simply can’t afford it. While I firmly believe that children grow and flourish the best within a community of involved participants, it would be wonderful if every parent could personally provide for all of their children’s needs—from food, to education, to emotional support. It’s an ideal world where parents are allowed to raise their children with the utmost attention and care as opposed to being forced out of the home to run the gauntlet of commercialism. If a parent can provide unquestionable, immutable support to their children throughout their lives, they would have done their job as parents and they would have done it well. But, like I said, this is not the society we live in.

‘Family values’ is propaganda that gets thrown around a lot, but the truth of the matter is that capitalism (and the patriarchy, sexism, racism, and other oppressions that help to keep it running) puts no value in the family. We’ve moved that which is considered valuable out of the homes and the family and into the cockles of commerce. If money is not involved, it’s not worth your time. This is ideology, but practically speaking, the capitalist system has created this completely abstract thing that must be obtained before you can acquire the basic necessities of life. There’s little room to value the family when we have to spend well over forty hours a week chasing capital to support only the mere basics of what a family needs.

I grew up bouncing from one institution to another. Both my parents worked and so when I wasn’t in day care I was in school and when I wasn’t in school, I was in after-school care. Needless to say, like most children these days, I spent more time within childcare environments than I did within the home. Thus, the people who cared for me were as important of an influence in my formative years as the people who birthed me and shared my blood.

Though I have to say, there was no cohesion; there was no unifying ideology behind these various childcare providers that let me know there was meaning to what was going on. Don’t get me wrong, I learned so much from the individuals who took on the challenging and inspiring task of caring for children, things I wouldn’t have learned at home or from my family. I gained different perspectives and unfamiliar knowledge. If I had been left solely to my parents’ devices, I would probably be wearing a suit everyday and working in a small box, staring at a computer screen. But, what they were never able to give me was that all too important sense of continuity and belonging. That enriching sense of community.

I can’t imagine what life for a single, non-white, low income, non-english speaking mother is like in this country. And I certainly don’t want to presume. But I do know that life for any parent is tumultuous and difficult. My parents, as the children of immigrants, wanted nothing more than to give me and my sister a better world then they had in which to grow up. And I think this mentality is true of most parents, it’s why my grandparents immigrated to the states and why my parents worked non-stop at jobs they hated, and why I write articles for papers like Slingshot. I want my children to live in a better world than I do. But who has the time to fight for these improvements to the world? Go to work, take the kids to daycare and school, work overtime, maybe even a second job, pick the kids up, get them dinner, don’t forget to help them with their homework, and on and on? It’s already hard for parents to see their kids as much as they should, who wants to take more time away from them to go to meetings that may or may not help to improve the world we’re leaving behind for them. This is where the Child Care Collective steps up.

In their mission statement the Childcare Collective says firmly and with admirable conviction: “We are committed to providing grassroots organizations and movements composed of and led by immigrant women, low-income women, and women of color with trained, competent, patient and politicized childcare providers for one-time events or ongoing meetings.” The idea is simple: prioritize the leadership of the oppressed and the underrepresented. Support them in building movements that only they can lead by offering up one of the most basic necessities that would otherwise keep them from their all too important community building and organizing.

Here’s how it works: An organization like POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights) or the Women’s Collective or Critical Resistance (an anti-prison organization)—groups that deal with, are led by, and are comprised of immigrant women, low-income women and women of color–has regular meetings and/or events. These organizations usually have an Event Coordinator who contacts the Childcare Collective’s Core Committee. “The Core” as it is affectionately called, is a group within the collective that takes on the administrative responsibilities of fund-raising, recruiting, scheduling, etc.. To be on the Core one must first be a volunteer and complete the orientation as well as several training programs and, of course, have done repeated childcare for the collective. With some time and communication, a relationship is fostered between the Event Coordinator of an organization and the Core of the collective until the collective has a viable understanding of the organization’s childcare needs. The Core then contacts, usually via e-mail and phone banking, their volunteer childcare providers to fill the needs of the organization. The volunteers then sign up as they are available and show up to the meeting and/or event with bright faces and warm intentions, and…Voila! You’ve got free, quality childcare.

The mission statement also reads, “We see childcare as a political act…In order for any movement to succeed, its ideas must be passed on from generation to generation. The Childcare Collective works to make sure that children are enjoying themselves and are informed about the work that the parents are doing. We hope to help children situate themselves as valuable and important members of a community and a movement.” Whoa, imagine that! A bunch of politicized volunteers helping to build multi-generational communities and movements. And I’ve really started to see it. I see inspiring, organized women of color doing important work and I get to interact with their strong and independent children. And I wonder what these children will get out of our interactions. I dream about them taking up their parents’ struggles or their own and moving forward. And I’m grateful that I played a role, however small, in their and the movement’s development. There have been times when one of the kids I’m working with will start to feel a little antsy, they’ll say, “When’s my mom gonna come? I want to go home.” And even though these words are always a little painful for a childcare provider to hear, I cherish the opportunity to say, “I know you want to go home, but your mom is helping to make all of our lives a little bit better, it takes time. Here let’s play a game.”

There’s a lot of work to be done but the Childcare Collective is up to the challenge. They are trying to establish a stronger presence in the East Bay. They have recently started to help out with the Mandela Arts Center and Critical Resistance—both in Oakland. However, new and dedicated volunteers are a must! To become a Collective member, a volunteer must agree to:

-perform childcare at least once each month

-keep the Collective supplied with your current contact information

-return ALL phone calls to the Collective

-attend one orientation

-attend quarterly volunteer in-services and trainings

But the first and most important step is to contact the Collective. If you are interested in volunteering or your organization is in need of childcare, please call the Childcare Collective at 415.541.5039 or e-mail them at childcarecollective@lycos.com

“The Childcare Collective hopes to play a part in building a movement that recognizes and prioritizes the voices and political agendas of women and mothers, especially women of color, low-income women, and immigrants. The needs of parents have traditionally not been recognized and parents’ access to quality childcare is sporadic at best.” The important thing to remember is that the Childcare Collective is not the movement. For the most part, the collective is comprised of younger educated people who come from some form of privilege. The beauty of it, though, is that these people have found a place for themselves and their talents in people of color led movements. But it’s important not to idealize the position of the Childcare Collective. They realize that these movements belong to the women of color who are leading them. We’re just here to watch the kids.

D.I.Y. Community Safety

no prisons, no cops

If our philosophy for community safety is anarchic and decentralized, inevitably the average person will play a greater role than in the society where most of us were raised. Just like we live in a world organized around petroleum, television, race and gender oppression, we’ve been programmed to depend on a hierarchy of authority for safety and legitimization. And, just as we can live well without petroleum, tvs and bigots, we can live safely without police.

Many people, including anti-authoritarians, pride themselves on meeting their needs without requesting or attracting police attention. Communities of color, freaky looking people, people with unconventional gender/sexual expression, people already known to the police, people who like drugs, very drunk people—why, the list of people with reservations about police interaction is endless. Add to this everyone with a do-it-yourself philosophy to life and those in remote areas without access to rapid law-enforcement response.

Why do people—some very often, others very rarely—think they need police, courts, and jails?

  • Resolution or mitigation of a dangerous, violent, or even annoying situation.
  • Dealing with on-going threats or unsolved crimes.
  • Having a procedure for people to seek justice and hold each other accountable.
  • Stabilizing the community amidst social upheavals and natural disasters.
  • Getting into locked cars (your own), writing off fix-it tickets, finding towed cars, etc. (often created by cops, ironically)

It’s not necessary that all of us have every skill for our communities to be safe. I can study the nuances of mediating disputes, while you can learn how to open car doors, and we’re both available to people who need us. But I will focus on situations when a need to protect others is unexpected. This is not a manual on dealing with threatening situations, but some things to consider before you intervene. My purpose here is to reflect on my own experience in unexpected interventions and share what I’ve learned.

Stressful decisions

When you intervene to stop or prevent violence, you will probably act at one of five levels:

  • Run or walk away
  • Observe without intervening
  • Mediate between people, or verbally confront an attacker
  • Put your body in the way, restrain a person, or even threaten consequences
  • Fight.

Observing the situation

Observing is usually a fine option if violence isn’t occurring, and always necessary if you may intervene later. Unlike the police, we may truly feel that a situation is none of our business. If you do stay uninvolved:

  • Observe as much as possible without compromising your need for distance. Remember that people can be confronted or attacked simply for watching.
  • Take inventory of whether you can involve others who can be more helpful. If you choose a solution other than observation, consider how many others are available. By definition, it’s a community solution when more people participate.
  • Consider thoughtfully your feelings as to whether pure inaction or calling law enforcement is the more just choice when you can’t intervene, though of course you would prefer neither.

Verbal intervention

Take a moment to read the excellent list of techniques (see sidebar this page) for diffusing and deescalating a situation. As you can’t keep this list in front of you when talking to people, take note of which ideas appeal to you the most; you may feel most natural applying these. Also keep in mind the basic principles underlying these tactics:

  • Be as conscious as possible of the person you are trying to communicate with, their state of mind, feelings, and what the person needs from this situation. Is the person about to get carried away by a sudden emotion?
  • Be aware of your body. Where it is and what messages it is sending? What is your voice like?
  • Be aware of your emotions, how you’re doing, and your stress level.
  • Distinguish between vital issues, trivial matters, and concerns where an underlying need can be met a better way.

Physical intervention

Keep in mind that physical intervention is undesirable unless verbal intervention has failed or there isn’t time given the danger posed by the situation. The basic points about verbal intervention apply here, as does the sidebar. One difference is that when you become physical, the potential for violence dramatically increases. It is important to state the obvious, calmly name the reasons for your actions and to watch your posture, because the body is not always where the mind is. But at the same time, you need to think about how you will respond to violence. You should also consider that getting involved physically could put you in trouble with the law, if someone else decides to call the cops, regardless of your good intention.

People will escalate if they believe you’re afraid, expecting to meet their demands through intimidation. While respecting your need not to be harmed, it is most important to avoid acting from fear. If you choose to express fear don’t let it be, or appear to be, your dominant motive. Confidence in your ability to defend yourself and others is helpful, and should certainly be cultivated. But physical intervention is always a risk, as everyone can be whooped by someone. Self-assurance serves one’s commitment to doing what is best and life-affirming when we remember risk and consequence. We can create this courage by knowing how our intervention serves community. We all can help stop the cycle of bullshit. Reflect on life and death, and what they mean to you—they will affect your choice of action.

Most situations benefit from having a context. When I have compassion for, or even like a person, or I don’t think the crisis is important enough to come to blows, it turns out better than if I’m acting from preexisting beliefs. If you are a pacifist I don’t think you should lie about that (or about anything) in a confrontation, but it probably won’t diffuse the situation by making the aggressor feel safe. It could even instigate them.

Oops! It’s violence!

I am not a pacifist. I believe violence is acceptable to stop or sometimes prevent greater violence, or in a group process that all parties consent to. I do not believe initiating violence is an acceptable way to process anger. Despite my values, I don’t think I’ve ever had to punch someone to create peace, and only a couple times do I think I should have in retrospect. And my best hope is that anyone inspired by this article succeeds in bringing tension to a halt at an earlier stage.

Suppose reason has failed and you are in an unreasonable situation. Everything is happening in fractions of seconds. There is no logical way to limit how its escalation. Now you have to trust your body and your instincts to do a good job. These are you just as much as your thinking mind.

As I’ve said, this is not a manual. I’m not qualified to teach you fighting techniques and don’t hope to do so in a Slingshot article. Or to make a list of bullet points here. I don’t know what your schedule is like or whether you have time for martial arts lessons or weapon training. I do feel that the more people know in a movement or community about the techniques and technologies of self-protection, the stronger and more self-reliant a people we are.

Community solutions

Networking with your neighbors is a great way to increase the safety of your community. How a network of neighbors, many having different views than yours, may choose to interact with the police is unpredictable but worth the effort. What matters is that a response to violence is created by residents, not the police or municipal government. Be aware of people in your neighborhood showing signs of violence or sociopathy. Support children and youth struggling in the community. Every person’s well-being affects overall safety.

Having alliances with both your neighborhood and radical community can also protect each others’ houses, defend vulnerable and targeted community members, and create coherent community demands and political positions. If there were ever civil disorder because of martial law, rioting or civilian conflicts, knowing who and what are safe is important. Stock up for earthquakes, hurricanes or floods: enough for everybody. A combined effort can save a community.

If you are concerned with how people around you are responding to violence and crime, organize workshops on non-violent action, mediation, self-defense, emotional crisis intervention, intimate violence. Consistently clarify the sense of personal boundaries within the community. At a collective house, one hundred people gathered to confront violent real-estate speculators who were intimidating the residents. Another community developed a phone-tree for collective instant response to police misconduct.

What you do when there’s no time to think depends on what you’re prepared to do and what you’re trained to do, and the agreements you have made with your inner self. Somebody once claimed that the difference between a community and a scene is the infrastructure we create to meet people’s needs. Be serious about your preparations for seriousness.

Conflict Resolution Techniques

  • Take a few deep breaths
  • Show the person/people respect
  • Ask them to show you respect
  • Tell them your first name, ask for theirs and use it often
  • Use a low, calm tone of voice
  • Use non-inflammatory language
  • Use a non-threatening body posture (sit down, give them space)
  • Don’t make sudden movements
  • Keep people from crowding around and talking over one another
  • If you’re already sitting down and you want to get up, do so slowly
  • Look them in the eye, but let them avoid eye contact if they want
  • Avoid using substances that interfere with clear thinking
  • Be honest and sincere
  • Ask them what it is they want and how you can help
  • Listen intently, and don’t talk until they’re through venting
  • Without necessarily agreeing, let them know you understand their position
  • Tell them what you think they are trying to tell you
  • Tell them what you like about their position
  • Validate and show an understanding of their situation
  • Don’t debate the issue or confront their complaint directly, instead calmly communicate your reasons for your actions
  • If you feel frustrated or you’re not getting anywhere, step back and let another person take over
  • Clarify any possible misunderstandings
  • Clearly tell them what you want
  • Assure them that you want them to be treated fairly
  • If the person is out of control, shift their attention away from sources of anger
  • Find a common ground to build trust on
  • Agree to disagree
  • Be aware of other people’s boundaries
  • State the obvious (I don’t want to fight)
  • Leave them an honorable way out
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously
  • Get advice from someone you trust
  • Walk away

from The Earth First! Direct Action Manual

PLO to Arafat’s Popular Successor: Stand Aside for the Puppet

Palestinian freedom fighter Marwan Barghouti is Arafat’s likely popular successor. But due to intense political pressure, he is standing aside in upcoming elections and urging support of moderate candidate Mahmoud Abbas — favorite of Sharon and the US.

Marwan Barghouti has been Fatah Secretary-General since 1994 and played a key role on the street in both the first Intifada and the present Intifadat al-Aqsa. Marwan sits in Nafha prison in the al-Naqab/Negev desert, sentenced last June 6 and now serving five life terms plus 40 years on trumped-up charges of multiple murder.

At the present critical juncture, anti-authoritarians should be part of a broad international movement to ensure the emergence of a new Palestinian leadership with strong ties to the Palestinian masses — a leadership that isn’t a compliant puppet of the Israeli ruling class and the West, overseeing a vassal state totally controlled by Israel.

Freedom Now!

Elections for the Palestinian president to succeed Arafat have been called for January 9, 2005. In the name of Palestine Liberation Organization unity, Barghouti has, apparently under great pressure from the PLO old guard, decided not to enter the fray as an independent and has called on supporters in the PLO new guard — and in effect on the Palestinian masses in the West Bank and Gaza — to support the PLO moderate candidate Mahmoud Abbas. That decision — which came after various ‘informed’ reports that Barghouti had indeed opted for making a presidential bid from his prison cell — may help keep the PLO externally unified over the months to come, masking what is already a fierce power struggle for authentic directions within.

Yet it is widely acknowledged in the Palestinian street, where Marwan earned his credentials as the leader of the Intifada, that he is Abu Ammar’s popular successor. He is probably also the only man who can end the Intifada. It is also clear that Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), whatever his stature as a senior PLO leader, is the candidate of choice of Sharon, his cabal and the Euro-Atlantic power axis — a man whom they hope to wind around their political finger in any future ‘negotiated’ settlement.

Marwan’s decision takes him out of what would have been intense international limelight, returning him to the limbo of his cell in the desert. At this crucial conjuncture, Israeli and international progressives should raise two demands: for Barghouti’s immediate release from prison and for his safety. There is a definite danger the Israeli government may decide — before or after the election — to liquidate him if they think he is the true popular choice of the Palestinian masses. They have him in custody; his assassination, or a staged fatal ‘accident,’ would be child’s play.

When sentenced last June, Barghouti stressed: “The continuation of the intifada is the only path to independence. No matter how many they arrest or kill, they will not break the determination of the Palestinian people. I don’t care whether I am sentenced to one life sentence, or 10 or 50; my day of liberty is the day the occupation ends. [...] The Israeli courts are a partner to the Israeli occupation. The judges are just like pilots who fly planes and drop bombs.” During his trial, the Israeli peace bloc Gush Shalom protested demanding: “Barghouti to the negotiating table, not to jail!”

In an article in the Washington Post in January 2002, Marwan stressed: “I am not a terrorist, but neither am I a pacifist. I am simply a regular guy from the Palestinian street advocating only what every other oppressed person has advocated — the right to help myself in the absence of help from anywhere else.”

Marwan was apprehended by the Israeli army in Ramallah on April 15, 2002, and has been illegally held in Israeli jails since then. He is kept in solitary confinement, separated from all other prisoners in Nafha, many of them Palestinian freedom fighters like himself. Marwan has repeatedly denied any involvement whatsoever with the deaths he has been charged with. During the proceedings against him, which began in 2003, he denounced the “show trial” as illegal, the Israeli court without any right to try him.

Permanent State of Emergency

Many Palestinians believe Barghouti is the only man who can end the Intifada. But key figures inside the Israeli political-military elite may fear precisely that: they do not want to see an end to the violence and actively scheme to engineer its repeated ‘churning,’ provoking militant groups. They may well want a weak president who will be increasingly discredited in the eyes of the Palestinian masses, thus strengthening the hand of Hamas, the Aqsa Brigades and other militant organizations. As Giorgio Agamben has written: “How could we not think that a system that can no longer function at all except on the basis of emergency would not also be interested in preserving such an emergency at any price?”

That permanent state of emergency is the subterfuge under which to continue the expansion of existing settlements, the demoralization of the Palestinian masses, and the incessant expropriation of ever more of their land in the West Bank.

Election Doomed From the Start?

The poll itself can easily turn out to be a sham. We have no example of a supposedly democratic election under the extraordinary conditions of a massive and oppressive Occupation. The West Bank today is a mazeway of road blocks and checkpoints that have earned the Occupation the name in Arabic Ihtilal, the Suffocation.

The Israeli short-term strategy will be to pressure Mahmoud Abbas toward a set of compromises that will in effect produce what Arafat refused to agree to: an Israel-dominated Palestinian Bantustan, an archipelago of enclaves, behind a Great Wall and a high Gaza fence: the 0.5-state solution. The Palestinian refugees will continue to rot in their camps, half a nation in limbo with nowhere to go.

Israel itself has probably already destroyed the geographic basis for any viable two-state arrangement. What exists de facto is indeed two states: Israel and its settler state exclave on the West Bank, with prospects for Gaza to become a fully quarantined isolate under Israeli spatial and economic control. This reality, culminating in the Great Wall of Palestine, reflects the radical separation of Jews and Arabs at all scales which has remained the fundamental principle of mainstream Zionist-nationalist policy since the earliest period of Jewish colonization in Palestine.

he Path Forward

The real need over the longer haul is to build a mass non-violent movement of Israelis and Palestinians toward a single democratic non-national state, a “politics from below,” forging bonds of ta’ayush (togetherness) in common struggle, and the return of refugees in massive numbers. Inside Israel, there remains the absolute necessity to move beyond the ‘ethnocracy’ of apartheid that Zionism has created for the 20 percent of its citizenry that is Palestinian [1], and the ‘decolonizing’ of the consciousness of the Jewish-Israeli masses. As historian Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin has stated: “Bi-nationalism, in the broad sense, is the question of the Arab-Jew, and its aim is to counter the Orientalist paradigm that pits one of these identities against the other […] As long as Israeli discourse is premised on the dichotomy Arab vs. Jew, it will be impossible to frame an alternative. Arab-Jew is, thus, a call for partnership based on the decolonization of Jewish identity in all senses and contexts” [2].

Direct democracy can only spring from mass and massive unity of purpose and action among Palestinians and Israelis in direct action. Working in stages over say 15 years: from two (or even 1.5) states to one state and on to ‘no state’ — forward to a Cooperative Socialist Commonwealth of Canaan in federation with a radically democratized Jordan [3].

Over the shorter term, I would argue pragmatism, or a kind of utopian realism: press now for the “best deal” option for a Palestinian statelet, recognizing that such a Palestinian 0.5-state inevitably controlled by Israeli nationalists, international Capital and its elites is a short-term compromise and not a solution. Yet its nominal creation holds out a desperately needed space for Palestinians in which to breathe inside the Ihtilal and its orchestrated nightmare.

1. See interview with Uri Davis: http://mumbai.indymedia.org/en/2004/10/209807.shtml

2. Quoted in Yael Lerer, “The Word in Times of Crisis,” http://oznik.com/words/041116.html

3. B. Templer, “Tanks & Ostriches,” The Dawn, August 2004, http://the-dawn.org/2004/08/ostriches.html