“Our ‘Neocons’ are neither new nor conservative, but old as Babylon and, evil as Hell.”
— Edward Abbey
Takoma Park, Maryland – Kevin Zeese got right to it in his opening remarks at a Forum, entitled, “Independent Solutions for the Middle East Crisis.” It was held in the town’s City Hall on Thursday evening, Aug. 17, 2006, in the Council Chambers. Zeese said: “The dividing line between peace candidates and pro war candidates is no longer opposition to the Iraq War. It is whether they oppose the premeditated destruction of Lebanon and a military attack on Iran.”
Zeese, the “Unity candidate” for the U.S. Senate in Maryland, was one of six speakers at the event. He has received the endorsements of Maryland’s growing Green, Populist and Libertarian Parties. Another speaker was Noura Erakat. She is the National Grassroots Organizer & Legal Advocate, “U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.” Erakat recently spoke at protest actions, in Washington, D.C., opposing Israeli evildoing in Occupied Gaza and Lebanon, on July 25, 2006, at the Israeli Embassy;  and on July 31, 2006, at the State Department.  The other four presenters were Dr. Bash Pharoan, President of the Baltimore Chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC); Jerry Raitzyk, Tikkun Maryland; Bob Kaufman, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Maryland; and Steve Warner, a Green Party candidate for the U.S. Congress, in the 5th district of Maryland. The moderator was Eric Bond, who is the Publisher/Editor of the Takoma/Silver Spring Voice newspaper.
Zeese, relying in part on an article by investigative reporter, Sy Hersh in the New Yorker, charged that the Bush-Cheney Gang was in cahoots with the Israeli regime, led by the extreme Far Rightist, Ehud Olmert, with respect to the Israeli Occupation Forces’ (IOF) decimation of Lebanon. It was planned, he said, long before the July 12th capture of the two Israeli soldiers, which was just “an excuse” for the invasion.  He cited the “Clean Break Document,” co-authored by the Neocon, Richard Perle, as further evidence of that design, along with reports that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Christian Science Monitor.  Zeese underscored that a military attack on Iran could lead to “a regional war or even WWIII.” He said the U.S.’ desire to dominate the Middle East is all about the vast “oil resources” in that area. Zeese said America is moving in the “wrong direction.”
Erakat told the audience, in her wide ranging comments, that the war in Lebanon has been “devastating on a humanitarian level…The cease-fire is not the end. The worst is not over for Lebanese civilians and survivors and for Palestinians, who are continuing to live under occupation; and for Iraqis who continue to live under occupation and resist. This is just the beginning, the beginning of a misery at our door…Two million Lebanese are unemployed. How will they feed their families? How will they rebuild their homes and their lives? The attack on Lebanon has destroyed almost all forms of infrastructures” in that country. Erakat also strongly denounced Zionist Israel as “an Apartheid state.”
Takoma Park is a breath of fresh air in a country dominated by a bellicose War Party. It’s a town of about 20,000, situated just north of the District of Columbia line, in Montgomery County, Maryland. Decades ago, it bravely declared itself a “nuclear free zone,” which sent some of the state’s reactionary politicos into a high orbit. It’s laid back, California-like, and enjoys putting on free concerts and other fun events. I’ve been there a few times, over the years, to join in the jambe drumming circles, held in the town’s center. Takoma Park is an authentic slice of fast-fading Americana. It has the Spirit!
Closer to home, the Baltimore Sun published an unsigned editorial on August 15, 2006, entitled, “An Imperfect Cease-Fire,” dealing with Israel’s unjust invasion of Lebanon, which took the lives of over 1,100 Lebanese and left a million of its people, one third of the nation, homeless; along with tens of billions in damages. It must have been ghostwritten by Sen. Joe Lieberman, a flaming Likudnut. It stated, contrary to all the well-know facts: “Israel was dragged into this war by Hezbollah in early July.” Offering such an absurd opinion is like arguing that Israel was “dragged into” attacking a clearly identified USS Liberty, on June 8, 1967, and killing 34 of its crew, because it couldn’t stand any state of the art intelligence vessel, flying the American flag, and sailing in international waters, 14 miles off the Sinai coast. The Israelis’ dubious excuse for that murderous assault was that it thought the USS Liberty was an out-of-service Egyptian horse carrier transport boat, El Quseir.  If anyone expects to read the truth about a habitually-deceiving Israel, vis-Ã -vis the Middle East, don’t look to the Baltimore Sun’s editorial page to find it.  By the way, talking about proportionality, if Israel can destroy Lebanon because two of its soldiers were captured, what should the U.S. have done to the Zionist state for slaughtering 34 of her bravest sons and injuring 174 more on the USS Liberty?
Getting back to the Forum. Candidate Kaufman gave an erudite history lesson on the Middle East from a Marxist perspective, which ended up with him, essentially, blaming the present mess on U.S. Imperialism and Zionism. Raitzyk argued for a “new bottom line” where we all can begin to see our common humanity and to seek a decent life for ourselves, our children and grandchildren. Candidate Warner said he has been deeply upset about the “foreign policy” of this country, particularly with regards to the Iraqi conflict and our one-sided support of Israel. Dr. Pharoan, who was born in Damascus, Syria, expressed his objections to the discrimination that Arabs have faced and are still facing in this country. He also pointed out that when the Israelis “pushed” the Palestinians out from their homeland over the years, they were also creating “instability in the surrounding countries.” Dr. Pharoan added that Israel was in violation of at least 29 UN Resolutions, “including UN Security Council Resolution 242.”
After the six speakers spoke, a question and answer session was opened up for audience participation. The lively event was cosponsored by the Maryland Independent Voters Forum and the Takoma/Sliver Spring Voice.
Zeese concluded his remarks by saying that it is time to bring the troops home from Iraq and to do so “quickly.” He emphasized, “We can not bring stability to that country. The U.S. has made so many mistakes in Iraq. We can not win the hearts and minds of the Iraqis. Our being there is the cause of most of the problems. The more we stay, the more our fears will come true; the more likely there will be a civil war…a theocratic state and terrorism. If we don’t get out of Iraq in an organized way, we will get out in a dangerous way. It will be like Vietnam all over again.”