Friday, June 30, 2006

Your Savings and Tax Dollars Are Funding Genocide in the Sudan

Your tax dollars go to support city, state and university pensions, which invest them money in foreign companies — many of which operate in Sudan. The worst of these companies provide no benefit to Sudanese civilians, merely extracting resources and paying off the genocidal government in Khartoum. This is the primary source of funding for the genocide in Darfur.

While no US companies are directly doing business in Sudan, many multinational companies are--some with minority investment from US companies. While many of these companies are helping Sudan’s citizens, a small subset are providing substantial revenue and cover to the government of Sudan’s campaign of genocide.

The most effective way to fight this support is the Sudan divestment movement. Already a half dozen states have approved divestment from Sudan. Twenty other states have divestment legislation pending. There is an active divesment campaign targeting TIAA-CREF, the nation's largest pension fund manager.

Multinational Corporations are drawn to Sudan because of the oil there. Only a concerted public effort will force them out.

The Israeli Government Institutes Collective Punishment

From Haaretz: : "The government is losing its reason"

Bombing bridges that can be circumvented both by car and on foot; seizing an airport that has been in ruins for years; destroying a power station, plunging large parts of the Gaza Strip into darkness; distributing flyers suggesting that people be concerned about their fate; a menacing flight over Bashar Assad's palace; and arresting elected Hamas officials: The government wishes to convince us that all these actions are intended only to release the soldier Gilad Shalit.

But the greater the government's creativity in inventing tactics, the more it seems to reflect a loss of direction rather than an overall conception based on reason and common sense. On the face of it, Israel wishes to exert increasing pressure both on Hamas' political leadership and on the Palestinian public, in order to induce it to pressure its leadership to release the soldier. At the same time, the government claims that Syria - or at least Khaled Meshal, who is living in Syria - holds the key. If so, what is the point of pressuring the local Palestinian leadership, which did not know of the planned attack and which, when it found out, demanded that the kidnappers take good care of their victim and return him?

The tactic of pressuring civilians has been tried before, and more than once. The Lebanese, for example, are very familiar with the Israeli tactic of destroying power stations and infrastructure. Entire villages in south Lebanon have been terrorized, with the inhabitants fleeing in their thousands for Beirut. But what also happens under such extreme stress is that local divisions evaporate and a strong, united leadership is forged.

In the end, Israel was forced both to negotiate with Hezbollah and to withdraw from Lebanon. Now, the government appears to be airing out its Lebanon catalogue of tactics and implementing it, as though nothing has been learned since then. One may assume that the results will be similar this time around as well.

Israel also kidnapped people from Lebanon to serve as bargaining chips in dealings with the kidnappers of Israeli soldiers. Now, it is trying out this tactic on Hamas politicians. As the prime minister said in a closed meeting: "They want prisoners released? We'll release these detainees in exchange for Shalit." By "these detainees," he was referring to elected Hamas officials.

The prime minister is a graduate of a movement whose leaders were once exiled, only to return with their heads held high and in a stronger position than when they were deported. But he believes that with the Palestinians, things work differently.

As one who knows that all the Hamas activists deported by Yitzhak Rabin returned to leadership and command positions in the organization, Olmert should know that arresting leaders only strengthens them and their supporters. But this is not merely faulty reasoning; arresting people to use as bargaining chips is the act of a gang, not of a state.

The government was caught up too quickly in a whirlwind of prestige mixed with fatigue. It must return to its senses at once, be satisfied with the threats it has made, free the detained Hamas politicians and open negotiations. The issue is a soldier who must be brought home, not changing the face of the Middle East.

The Israeli Government continually hopes for a 1948 rerun, when Arab inhabitants flee before invading Israeli armies, leaving the land open for Jewish settlers.

But the West Bank Palestinians did not flee in 1967, in spite of pamphlets warning them to run from the Israeli army. The Lebonese did not flee from Arial Sharon's invasion in the 1980s. Lacking Arab evacuation, the Isrealis have been left with unpalitable alternatives; ethnic clensing or prolonged guerilla war. They have not yet been willing to go to ethnic clensing, but their isolation of the Gaza Strip and attacks on vital infrastructure raise the possibility that this time that option may be on the table.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Congress approves emergency funds for darfur

The U.S. Congress passed $173 million in emergency funding for the poorly funded and armed Darfur peacekeepers.

A UN assessment team visited Darfur and Chad last week and issued a report upon their return. The violence is spreading into Chad. Sudanese Janjaweed and rebel groups have driven up to 50,000 Chadians from their homes and are living next to Darfurians in refugee camps. The ethnic nature of the violence is also bleeding into Chad. The Janjaweed have begun recruiting Arab Chadians to join in their attacks. Chadian President Idriss Deby continues to accuse Sudan of inciting and funding this violence.

The UN delegation is seeking a resolution to the Darfur conflict that will address violence in Darfur and Chad.

The BBC reports this week that refugees still feel that there is not enough security in Darfur for them to return home. A Sudanese Red Crescent clinic — one of only two serving more than 40,000 refugees — will likely be forced to close in the coming weeks due to lack of international aid.

Amnesty International reported that China has been exporting military equipment that is being used to commit atrocities in highly volatile conflict regions including Darfur.