|Olympians Oppose Sharon's "Trail of Tears"
April 06, 2002, Olympia, Washington--More than 200 people gathered here today for a rally and march opposing Israeli political, economic, and military repression in Palestine.
Community activists, concerned citizens, and educators and students from The Evergreen State College and Saint Martin's College denounced Ariel Sharon's recently escalated attacks on Palestinians. During the past week, Israeli forces invaded West Bank towns; indiscriminately fired on innocent civilians, and peaceful, unarmed international activists; expelled, threatened, and shot journalists; cut off water, electricity and food supplies; destroyed buildings and private property; conducted mass arrests and detentions of over 1200 people; denied access to European Union and consular staff; and attacked Red Cross, Red Crescent, and other medical personnel, preventing them from treating the wounded, among other violations of the Geneva Conventions. According to Amnesty International, 1200 Palestinians and more than 300 Israelis - the vast majority civilians - have died in the past 18 months.
Evergreen Professor and previous Bethlehem University Fulbright scholar Therese Saliba received word today that a seventy-four-year-old woman attempted to deliver food to the people and clergy currently barricaded in the Church of the Nativity. The Israeli army detained her, ransacked her home, and broke both her hands. Film producer Tom Wright (Checkpoint: The Palestinians After Oslo) described his previous direct experience in Palestine. Nine years ago Israel closed off Jerusalem to Palestinians and proceeded to increase illegal construction of Israeli settlements within Palestine, confiscating land, displacing Palestinians into disconnected parcels transected by roads reserved for Israeli use only, and diverting water from Palestinian towns to the swimming pools and lush lawns of Israeli settlements.
Multiple speakers pointed out that Israeli force against the Palestinian people is funded by US tax dollars to the tune of $10 billion dollars since 1993 alone ($100 billion since 1967), and military aid: F-16 and F-15 fighter jets, Blackhawk and Boeing-manufactured Apache helicopters, Hellfire II laser-guided and other missiles, bombers, aircraft engines, rockets, trucks, projectiles, ammunition, rifles, machine guns, and a vast array of technical support services as well as computer and radar equipment.
In addition, the US government has persistently vetoed placement of international observers in the Occupied Territories. Further, the US government has repeatedly vetoed UN Security Council resolutions denouncing Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine and calling for Palestinian statehood-until this past week, in a move widely recognized as an effort to garner international support for its next war, the war on Iraq.
US Representative Brian Baird (D-WA) repeatedly said that "There are two sides" in this conflict. "We're all deeply troubled," he said. "It is tragic to see the violence on both sides. I doubt there will be an easy solution, and the leadership on both sides needs to back down. The parties will have to find a solution."
When directly asked his opinion of Israel's expansion of settlements within the Occupied Territories, Mr. Baird replied that, while he opposed some, "in many cases the expansion was secondary to security concerns" on the part of Israel. The next speaker, Evergreen Professor of Political Science and Political Economy Larry Mosqueda, said of Baird, "He is teachable."
Several speakers remarked on the state of US media reporting, which they said reflects bias, propaganda, and outright lies. Wright characterized mainstream media content as largely consisting of phony debates, silenced voices, and vanquished narratives. Yet there are alternative sources of news and information. One 80-year-old life-long activist said she's been glued to the Internet all week. For analysis and background information, Mosqueda recommended Common Dreams, Alternet, and books by Noam Chomsky and Edward Said.
Mosqueda cautioned that the Bush "wars of terror" do not stop with Palestine. Iraq, the Philippines, Colombia and countries around the world are on the list of potential targets for US military action and aid. Mosqueda recalled US 18th and 19th century history in which Native Americans were subjected to government policies of expulsion and extermination, followed by the 20th century history of Nazi expulsion and extermination of Jews, leading into the present 21st century expulsion and extermination of Palestinians. "We must take action now, before it's too late," before Palestine becomes "Sharon's Trail of Tears," he said.
Mosqueda further wondered if some Americans might be intimidated by the Jewish establishment. He referred the crowd to an April 03 article by Rabbi Michael Lerner and Harvard Professor Cornel West, "Violence and Excuses in the Mideast":
"Many Americans have been intimidated into silence by the forces of Jewish-establishment political correctness. They fear they will be labeled either anti-Semitic Christians or self-hating Jews should they say aloud what they feel privately: that Israel is behaving immorally and at times even savagely."
Mr. Twahiru Muhammed compared the current situation in Palestine with South Africa during the apartheid years. Israel is portraying Palestinians as "the others," he said. "It takes people to stop the evil of others. Tell those we've elected to stop the funding. Rising up and fighting for your dignity is not terrorism."
Long-time community activist Anna Schlecht described her horror at the bombing of a Seder dinner. "We can no longer say it's a problem in other parts of the world, not after Sept. 11," she said. "We have to step forward. Follow the money."
Schlecht spoke of the roots of violence. In her work with schoolplace violence, she and her colleagues discovered that children who resort to violence had experienced years of degradation and humiliation, and that the resulting acts of violence were in fact acts of desperation.
"Enough is enough," she said.
See also massive protests in Paris.
Lerner, Michael, and Cornel West. Violence and Excuses in the Mideast.
April 03, 2002.
Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
US Representative Brian Baird (D-WA)
Email at http://www.house.gov/writerep
120 Union Ave
Olympia, WA 98501
another world is possible . . .
www.omjp.org Olympia is an ancient sanctuary in the prefecture of Elis Peloponnese. A magnificent archaeological site, the sanctuary has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and in the 10th century B.C, the area became a religious center for the worship of Zeus and Hera, the chief couple of the Olympian gods. The sanctuary was also the site of the Olympic Games held in honor of Zeus from the 8th century BC till the 3rd century AD, when the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius decided to stop them as a pagan practice.
The sacred region of Olympia enclosed a number of buildings arranged without any particular form or order. Within the sacred enclosure, are situated the temples dedicated to Zeus and Hera. Built around 450 BC, the temple of Zeus occupied the most important position among the local and pan-Hellenic deities. The statue of Zeus, a magnificent piece of art sculpted by the 5th century sculptor, painter and architect Phedias, used to stand to a height of 43 feet and this was the most impressive statue in the ancient world. Unfortunately, not a part of this statue survives today and we know about it from narrations of ancient travellers. It is said that Phedias took about twelve years to complete it. The head of Zeus was adorned with a sculpted wreath of olive sprays, and he would hold in his right hand an ivory and gold figure of Nike, the goddess of victory. In his left hand, there was a scepter with an eagle perched on top. This statue was located in the temple of Zeus, the god who was honored during the Olympic Games.
To the east of the sanctuary was the Hippodrome, an immense oval structure used as a stadium where horse and chariot racing were held. Although very little remains of the hippodrome, scholars who have reconstructed the stadium from ancient texts and manuscripts, feel that the structure covered a total length of 1200 meters, and the track was perhaps lapped 3-12 times depending on the type of competition.
To the northern side of Olympia is located the Doric temple of Hera, wife of Zeus and the most important of the Greek female deities. The temple was destroyed in an earthquake in the 4th century AD and its ruins can be seen today. To the north of the sanctuary, lies the Prytaneion, the residence of priests and magistrates. It was also the venue for feasts and celebrations for the winners of the Olympic Games. It was here that the early Olympic flames burnt. The only structure on the sacred sanctuary dedicated to a human is the Philippeion, a circular memorial of ivory and gold, which had once housed the statues of the family of Philip II of Macedonia.
All the archeological treasures that have been excavated on the ancient site of Olympia are housed in the Archaeological Museum right next to the site. Ancient pediments, rare statues, terracotta, bronzes, a fine collection of artifacts from the Olympic Games, as well as other exhibits of immense historical significance dating from the prehistoric to the Roman period stand out in this very interesting and well-labeled museum.