Let’s do what we can to make it so. 2021, a year of plenty and a year of renewal.
A Difficult Year for So Many, but Positive Environmental Stories Emerged: “In a difficult year, species were brought back from the edge of extinction; new protected areas were created; and Indigenous women leaders got long-overdue recognition. Mongabay looks back at some of the top positive environmental stories from 2020.” https://portside.org/2021-01-02/difficult-year-so-many-positive-environmental-stories-emerged
Covid Stuff: I wasn’t clamoring for vaccine access for myself in any way, A. I don’t like being a guinea pig for big pharma, B. I have to deal with white privilege guilt about getting protected when others are at least as in need and being denied it. With my work though, which involves going into other people’s living spaces to fix and move things, I know I deserve whatever protection I can muster. Work came through, and I got the first of two Moderna shots the last day of 2020. Soreness at the injection site ramped up over the next six or eight hours and lasted for two and a half days. Not bad. I expect worse after the second dose.
I had hoped to wait for one of the less profit-driven versions to come my way, but given the opportunity, it would not have been right to wait. It helped that almost all of my more diligently informed friends were clear on recommending going forward. Publicly funded research shouldn’t lead to large corporate profits. That isn’t the whole story though, and I must not be overly cynical. It did spark renewed interest in what is being developed elsewhere. I am aware that even in news outlets like Democracy Now!, when discussions of the covid vaccine variants is discussed, Cuba isn’t mentioned or other efforts other than the Oxford one and maybe the Chinese one. Today I found some answers, and something comforting of my fears for Iran due to sanctions. https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/456441/Iran-Cuba-coproducing-COVID-19-vaccine
500 Richest People Added $1.8 Trillion to Combined Wealth in 2020: “Surging billionaire wealth hits a painful nerve for the millions of people who have lost loved ones and experienced declines in their health, wealth, and livelihoods.” https://portside.org/2021-01-02/500-richest-people-added-18-trillion-combined-wealth-2020 This Common Dreams article by Julia Conley (not familiar to me) can help when the stark numbers are needed to punctuate a point.
Access Denied -Asian Dub Foundation (late 2020 release): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRnDtTLgA0c or purchase it or some tracks wherever you do such things. A lot of old groups have some inspiring, powerful new works coming out.
“Ground the Drones Lest We Reap the Whirlwind” was true in 2009 when we said it as the Creech-14, and sadly it is truer 12 years later. Looking into the sudden surrender of Armenia in Ngorno-Karabakh, I found a very revealing Forbes article. I was intrigued to learn that in addition to Israel, Turkey has a robust and effective drone development, production and export industry in the region. https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidhambling/2020/11/10/the-magic-bullet-drones-behind–azerbaijans-victory-over-armenia/?sh=535867b05e57 I am guilty of a tad, bittersweet feeling of relief that Israel can’t automatically woo and buy off despots worldwide. There is competition, if not balance of power in the murderous drone industry. It would appear that Israel’s drones helped Azerbaijan, but their recent purchase of Turkish drones was decisive. Armenia’s new, handful of fighter jets were of little consequence. I’m not cheering for Erdogan’s militarism or violence! Just before posting this Missive, I received another article worth sharing from James Dorsey, an academic based in Singapore who I started receiving notifications from. I learn a lot about geopolitical machinations and large scale projects from him. This one is about Turkish influence being substantial and growing in the greater Middle East amid Erdogan’s own imperial intentions amid tensions with the UAE, Israel and others. https://mideastsoccer.blogspot.com/2021/01/erdogan-positions-powerful-turkish.html
Armed Right Wing Groups Aren’t ‘Militias’–We Need to Stop Calling Them That (Time Magazine, Richard Stengel, Oct. 30, 2020) Here is a great and extensive article in as quintessentially mainstream a news magazine as has ever existed. https://time.com/5905374/armed-rightwing-groups-are-not-militia/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=social-share-article&utm-term=ideas_extremism&fbclid=IwAR0UEdVNJoAd8QtPtyUV94Ira236hbxI8o8yiBY81LH-3MSb8uh6CtGHZlg The link is to the article via a Facebook share. When I tried to simplify the link, it worked, but I hit their paywall. Hopefully this link works for you too.
Meanwhile various prisons if not the entire federal Bureau of Prisons are starting to return mail that is printed on home printers. First it was Pine Knot, Kentucky, but I just got a Missive returned from Carswell outside of Ft. Worth, Texas. I send Missives to people as you know. The photos mean a lot, I know. Some people can type better than they can write. Maybe it is the printing of articles they want to stop, so they overreact, assholes and their “security” concerns!
In the last Missive, I had a simple list of resources that inform and inspire me. I included a good one (The National Priorities Project), but I actually was confused and meant to plug The Cost of War Project. (https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/papers/2020/AirstrikesAfghanistan) Works out to include it here, now though since this leads into my next item.
In March, it will be 10 years since I visited Afghanistan (mostly Kabul) with Voices for Creative Nonviolence and the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. Here are my pictures from that trip on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jimhaber/albums/72157626321254424. Let me know if you want more details of any. The impetus for that trip–which was a large, ungainly delegation full of touching, lifelong inspiration and connection–came from organizing against drones at Creech Air Force Base. I quickly learned however, that bad as drone strikes were, most deaths and US-inflicted terror were actually due to night raids with boots on the ground. Now, both are terrible problems as my friend and guide Kathy Kelly wrote in The Progressive a little over a month ago. https://progressive.org/dispatches/unending-war-in-afghanistan-kelly-201125/
Clockwise from lower left: Tank graveyard on the outskirts of Kabul. Woman in Kabul refugee camp next to tank graveyard washing pots. Memorial to children killed in a bomb at the site of an important hospital operated by the Italian group “Emergency.” Peace dove on wall near one of our hotels. One of the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteer banners.
Speaking of delegations, I will always remember that for New Years 2020 I was in Sarura outside of A Tuwani in the south Hebron Hills of the West Bank. It was a warm gathering in many touching ways, and the weather could have been far more of a problem than it was. I was with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence, Youth of Sumud (resilience), friends from Um Il Khair, A Tuwani, Bethlehem, Jerusalem. It was heartwarming and bittersweet, like so many stories that move me. Reporting back got truncated by the corona virus and black lives matter focus, and maybe the election. In my January and February, 2020 Missives I covered the delegation’s beginning in Masrura, Jerusalem, learning about the plight of the Mizrachim brought in as human shields by the European Zionist leaders in the 1940s. I also shared how great it was to see Chava, David, Yona and friends on Kibbutz Gezer, and of course, my most recent visit with Eamon was on my way home from that excursion. Here are a few images from Isawiya on the outskirts of Jerusalem, a very beleaguered neighborhood I also visited in 2017.
Clockwise from the right: The home of the man in the wheelchair was just demolished for the fourth time. Officially, just the top floor was deemed illegal and destroyed. The ceiling of the first floor is clearly not okay. Where the second floor was, you can see his parents’ home next door. The second floor would have given easier wheelchair access. During the third demolition was when the man was thrown from his home, and he became disabled.
Clockwise from the left, Dec. 31, 2019: CJNV’ers planting olive saplings on rocky terrain in A Tuwani. Neat rows of trees were impossible there due to the large rocks. The army arrived when we did for our first work day. We did our thing, but they declared a closed military zone where we were planning to have our New Years Eve celebration. We pivoted well, having it in the caves of Sarura: the Sumud caves we cleaned up in 2017. On the other side of the village, I helped prepare olive trees on a hill so the little berms would keep some water from running quickly downhill. Nearby, Palestinians show us where an IDF bulldozer destroyed a shed.
Upon my return, three of us held a quick report back at Kehilla, and I shared a few stories by others about helping Palestinians reassert their right to access water at the Ein Al Beida spring near A Tuwani. That action remains poignant for me since my role was to try to protect a Palestinian friend and leader from arrest during whatever chaos and response the settlers and IDF would confront us with. Since 2020 saw black activists, politicians and regular folk being threatened and attacked in the United States with increasing shamelessness and visibility, I feel like saying–and I hope I will never have to say– “Over my dead body!” to a white supremacist attacking a person of color. The prep and action days a year ago definitely come to mind when I imagine what it could be like and what I might do.
I want to apologize for taking so much of your time, but I still need to recommend six more important, outstanding articles. They all bear on longstanding issues I will continue to bring to your attention. They start with Israel but lead into nukes. (Surprise!) Then we’ll finish up celebrating MLK birthday awareness and Eamon. Share back sources you rely on, please, or let me know if you find fault with my suggestions, please.
- About bullsh*t charges of antisemitism derailing careers of people of integrity fighting for justice: Here’s an article in Mondoweiss about the situation in Labour in Great Britain should ring alarm bells for people everywhere. https://mondoweiss.net/2020/12/the-real-corbyn-tragedy-and-jewish-currents-refusal-to-publish-an-opposing-view/ The object in this piece, the longstanding British Zionist publication Jewish Currents, is one I am familiar with because of my work for Allan Solomonow who died a year ago. (May his memory be for a blessing…) In his files were quite a few contentious back-and-forths between he and the editors. I’m sad to see they are still pushing the racist anti-Palestinian line there. I pray for a reprise of Jeremy Corbyn somehow, and that any friends of mine see the smears of him for what they are.
2. “The Israeli Nation-State Law Had Its Day in Court” by Orly Noy in 972 Magazine on New Years Day. “During the hearing, the High Court justices saw no problem with demoting the status of Arabic and claimed that ‘equality’ is something best left for the future.” I saw the article through Portside Snapshot. https://portside.org/2021-01-01/israeli-nation-state-law-had-its-day-court
3. Here was an interesting article from The Forward about Birthright: New data suggest Birthright effect on Jewish marriage, connection to Israel lasts up to 2 decades. (https://forward.com/news/national/459286/birthright-israel-study-data/) Birthright would be okay if it really weren’t about pumping up young Jews not to give a sh*t about dispossessing, dehumanizing and invisiblizing Palestinians. Feeling connected to Biblical places and to our existence as Jews is good. The bad stuff doesn’t make up for it though.
4. Desmond Tutu says (The Guardian, 12/31/2020): Joe Biden should end the US pretense over Israel’s ‘secret’ nuclear weapons: “The cover-up has to stop – and with it, the huge sums in aid for a country with oppressive policies towards Palestinians.” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/dec/31/joe-biden-us-pretence-israel-nuclear-weapons Now would be a particularly poignant time for the world to force Israel to stop ducking its responsibilities as a nuclear weapon state, especially with its formidable, operational and very advanced nuclear weapons arsenal.
5. Tutu’s call came as Israel’s nuclear armed “Dolphin” submarine was passing through the Suez Canal to be more illegally threatening to Iran. Thanks, Sisi! Israel and the United States have already been attacking Iran and Iranian leaders as well as ratcheting up the sanctions regime, even during the pandemic. https://www.richardsilverstein.com/2020/12/30/israels-german-built-nuclear-armed-sub-opens-new-front-against-iran-and-allies/
6. I had to add this article by James North which I only saw a few minutes ago. Maybe it is why I didn’t send this Missive out last night, knowing it (and James Dorsey’s article) would show that my fears of Trump and Netanyahu goading Iran into more retaliatory violence aren’t just my own trumped up fears: https://mondoweiss.net/2021/01/trump-and-netanyahu-keep-trying-to-goad-iran-conflict-they-have-18-days/ North also names the horrid Sheldon Adelson of Birthright infamy as a major force pressuring Trump and Pompeo to nuke the Persian state.
January 22: The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) Comes Into Force! Here is the best page I have found for background on this monumental treaty: https://www.icanw.org/updates What might you do to pump up the potency of the day? We don’t have the luxury of surrendering to these quintessential weapons of mass destruction.
Let’s Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birth and Life: Nothin’ new here. I am still so moved by the sermons and speeches of the Reverend Doctor King that I consider him a prophet. My two favorites of his teachings for the past couple of years have been the sermon “Love and Forgiveness” (May 20, 1964, transcript) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vNe7kEkNR89vvrU_OdTTOgpMp6HjWUFm/view?usp=sharing, and his keynote address, “The Three Evils of Society” (August 31, 1967, audio) https://youtu.be/6sT9Hjh0cHM.
Our Cat can be a Comfort, but I Really Miss Eamon!
It has been a year since I got to hold Eamon, for him to feel my strength and love in person. A year since I had the joy of rocking them to sleep, or watching him throughout a day or a night. I don’t expect this separation to last much longer, but I know it isn’t over yet. I try to nurture the patience of a lifetime, or multiple lifetimes (lived concurrently, not all mine). I’m moved by how stable he seems in their body. Not a baby anymore!