Green Party pres’l candidate misses crucial political opportunity by not talking up democracy in Israel/Palestine

Israel/Palestine
on 14 Comments

The following letter to Jill Stein, Green Party candidate for president, was shared with us by Justine McCabe and Joel Kovel, two of its authors. The other signatories, also associated with the Green Party, are Lenni Brenner, Stan Heller and David Schwartzman. Links to documents appear at the end of the letter.

We publish the letter below in response to Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein’s latest press release (10/8) on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, issued on the occasion of the recent Russell Tribunal on Palestine in NYC.  We gladly acknowledge the positive movement represented by this press release and receive it as her attempt to address the critique we made to her previous statements, an earlier (9/26) version of this “open letter” to her campaign. 

However, we regret that Jill’s statement is still lacking.

First, it still misrepresents the central and distinctive features of the GPUS Platform on this subject: our Party’s support for One Democratic State in Israel-Palestine; and for the non-violent means toward that goal–immediate end to all aid to Israel and support for the Palestinian Civil Society call for boycotts, divestments and sanctions to stop the institutionalized privilege of Jews over non-Jews in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, a racism that is intrinsic to a Zionist Israel’s formation and existence.  The colonialism and racism on which Israel was founded cannot be ended–nor can sustainable peace be achieved–by the “two-state solution” which your statement supports in its praise for the Zionist Israeli Meretz party. This confuses the issue by diverting attention from the urgency of the One Democratic State proposal. (“Dr. Stein further applauded the actions of the Israeli political party Meretz in committing for the first time to support for a return to 1967 borders, including a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, and for supporting the 2002 Arab Peace Proposal.”) 

The GPUS platform does not support a “two-state” solution that even many Israeli Jews acknowledge as a dead end and distraction. 

Second, Jill’s statement does not respond to our request that she actively raise this important issue while she’s on the campaign trail.    

In rebutting Jill’s press releases on the subject, we neither wish to derail her campaign nor cause conflict within the Green Party of the United States whose formation we have all worked hard for more than a decade.  Instead, we believe we uphold the work and integrity of our party as a real opposition party to the status quo.  This can only be done by respecting the actual proposals of the Party’s Platform. It is Jill Stein’s disavowal of the Party Platform that sows the seeds of intra-party conflict. 

In sum, our analysis is that the Stein Campaign obscures the GPUS Platform on the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an issue of vital importance to US foreign policy and world peace, and has missed an excellent opportunity to provide the public with an understanding of the conflict’s origins and ongoing consequences–an understanding that is quite different from that presented by the US media and the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.      

OPEN LETTER TO JILL STEIN:

MAKE ISRAEL-PALESTINE A CAMPAIGN ISSUE

Dear Jill and the Green Party “Stein for President” Campaign,

We acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifice and enormous effort you make representing the Green Party of the United States.  Indeed, we have supported your presidential campaign by donating our time and money.

We write now to continue to challenge you attend to a significant foreign policy issue: the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. 

Do you fully support the excellent GPUS Platform on Israel and Palestine? Do you acknowledge more than just its rectitude, which means forcefully speaking out on the issue and making your voice unmistakably heard?

We’re writing from two concerns:

First, your three public statements on the conflict—a May 15 press release, an earlier Truthout interview (1/29/12), and October 8 press release—do not represent the intent of the GPUS Platform, and neglect a chance to educate the public about the conflict’s cause and the negative impact of US Palestine-Israel policy on the security of Americans as well as those in the Middle East.

Second, failing to assert this issue on the stump— which is different from defensively responding to our push–misses a strategic opportunity to mobilize a significant portion of the voting population who do not support the Republican and Democratic policies toward Israel and would support GPUS’ distinguishing foreign policy on this.  Moreover, by asserting this, you would enhance the seriousness of your campaign for president, especially in light of the recent and growing anti-American sentiment in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

1. GPUS policies on this issue developed thoughtfully, over a decade. The two key points of this platform are support for the right of Palestinian refugees to return home and the One Democratic State solution. The concrete, nonviolent actions to achieve these goals are immediately ending all US aid to Israel and supporting the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.   

Unlike your earlier statements, we’re pleased that your latest press release (10/8) does mention BDS as “boycotts and divestment,” and our long-standing support for the Palestinian right of return.  However, you still do not place these Platform planks in context: Why BDS? How, why did Palestinian refugees leave their native land?  Why will Israel not allow them to return?

Similarly, while your recent press release paraphrases a statement from the GPUS Platform, which “specifically recognizes the rights of self-determination of all peoples in Israel-Palestine,” it omits a crucial phrase from that Platform, “which precludes the self-determination of one at the expense of the other.”  How can ongoing settler-colonization and occupation of Palestinian land by Zionist Israelis be “self- determination”?  How can it not be seen as precluding the self-determination of one at the expense of the other?

Most significantly, as in the earlier press release and interview, your recent press release does not mention our support for the “One State Solution,” which in addition to calling for an immediate end to US aid to Israel, support for the right of return and BDS, are positions that clearly distinguish our party from others and actually address the conflict’s source. 

In fact, the tone of your first (5/15) press release reinforces the political, cultural and corporate media bias that the two parties are equally responsible for the conflict, a view not reflected in the GPUS Platform.  The tendency to equalize responsibility denies the real political and military inequality of the “combatants”: a nuclear-powered Israel, fourth largest military in the world backed by the US as its “cop” in that region, versus an impoverished, literally dispossessed and occupied people who have consistently resisted their dispossession, their legal right under international law.

Simply put, the source of the conflict is a Zionist Israel’s intentional dispossession of Palestinian Christians and Muslims because they are not Jews.  This accounts for the human rights abuses that continue, some of which, admirably, you do mention in your two press releases. However, without articulating this deliberate dispossession as the root of Israeli abuses, your statements sidestep both the conflict’s source and the just, sustainable solution that GPUS supports—again, One Democratic State.  Instead, you continue to defer to more generic human rights “talk” which has proven ineffectual and has been co-opted by the US and its Western allies to provide cover for Israel as it continues to seize and settle Palestinian land at US taxpayer expense.   

 By referring to the human rights violations by Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority without saying why and how this conflict began and continues, does not enlighten voters about the conflict’s astounding duration or unrelenting Palestinian resistance since the late 19th century. Rather, it contributes to the dehumanization of Palestinians as inherently hateful and anti-Semitic.  By contrast, it would be informative and ultimately peace-making for Americans to understand that, as in the cases of apartheid South Africa and Jim Crow US, institutionalized racism is the source of the conflict. [Green Party statement on Palestine]

Moreover, without acknowledging Israel’s deliberate dispossession of Palestinians, the policies you propose don’t make sense, nor does the GP platform.

Why would you, as president, wait for “Failure by any party to demonstrate material progress” (5/15 press release) in respecting human rights before cutting off aid to Israel?

Our platform already calls for the suspension of military and foreign aid to Israel now. 

Why do you appeal to the chimera of the future instead of historical fact?  Israel has consistently demonstrated that it wants Palestinian land without Palestinians. This is why our Platform supports BDS, why it calls for a return of refugees.  And why it supports the creation of One Democratic State.

We appreciate your recognition (5/15 press release) of the significant US culpability in this conflict by its support for Israel, an alliance that primarily sustains the nuclear military industrial fossil fuel complex (MIC) that threatens world peace and increases the likelihood of catastrophic climate change.  Indeed, because of the crucial US role in sustaining the conflict—the linchpin of US Middle East policy–we, a US political party and “party of peace”–have an obligation to speak about its root cause. 

We’re urging you to direct our country on a new path, to the structural cause of the conflict and ultimately to its solution. No other party will say this if we do not. 

2. We believe deliberately raising this issue is highly strategic. Moreover, as we enter the last weeks of campaigning, we believe that the recent events in the Middle East—as well as Romney’s demeaning comments that Palestinians don’t want peace–demand that you, our presidential candidate, demonstrate your grasp of this situation and an issue that arouses significant antipathy to the US in the Middle East and beyond.

Obvious potential advantages would result from assertively raising this issue:

 ·You would draw media attention on this hot button issue. GPUS policy on this issue sets us apart.  Even negative press attention would be valuable in obtaining support of the significant American voting population who oppose US foreign policy toward Israel.

·You would be educating voters about the fact that the Democratic and Republican support for Israel poses a threat to American security, which even the US military acknowledges. Indeed, US support for Israel has us now teetering on the edge of a catastrophic war against Iran. Citizens of every formerly colonized country in Africa, South America and Asia identify and empathize with the dispossession of Palestinians by Israel, empathy beyond the reach of the most repressive government in those regions, and which continues as the Arab awakening proceeds. 

 ·You would be calling attention to the fact that BDS has emerged as a global non-violent movement to bring equality, justice and peace to Palestinians and Israelis. Consistent with our 10 Key Values, BDS is exactly the right approach to bring this conflict to a just resolution, a necessity to end the imperial agenda in the Middle East, prevent a new war (with Iran) and create the global regime of cooperation necessary to end fossil fuel addiction. It is essential for the peace and justice movements–of which GPUS is a part–to unite as soon as possible with the climate security movement.  BDS is precisely what is needed in this context.

 ·You would increase the support of the progressive community, BDS activists, and members of the national anti-war movement that has made Palestine-Israel an integral part of every march. Many of these committed activists waver on voting for Obama as the lesser evil. Your deliberate attention to this issue would fortify these activists to vote for real change as evidenced by GPUS policies that make legal, economic and moral sense. 

·You would increase the support of Arab and Muslim American voters who will be drawn to the GP because of our distinguished Platform on a crucial issue for them.  

 ·You would draw the support from many American Jews, especially younger, progressive Jews who, according to polls, have decreasing attachments to Israel and Zionism. While historically the “Jewish vote” has been significant for Democratic candidates especially, data show that support for Israel increasingly comes from elderly Jewish-Americans who provide financial support to both the Republican and Democratic parties.   

 · You would—whether you’re elected president–be calling attention to the necessity of immediately stopping annual US aid to Israel as a concrete response to the urgency to redirect these billions of dollars to Americans and their domestic needs–a real Green New Deal that your campaign rightly advocates. 

 In our view, this issue is extremely important to the GPUS presidential campaign.

We hope that you will respond positively to our request.

In solidarity,

Lenni Brenner

Green Party activist, author of Zionism In The Age Of
The Dictators

Stan Heller

Green Party of CT

Joel Kovel

Green Party candidate for US Senate, NY, 1998

Candidate for Presidential nomination, 2000

Justine McCabe

Co-Chair, International Committee, GPUS

David Schwartzman

DC Statehood Green Party candidate for U.S. Senator
Member of the International Committee, GPUS

———-

Links to Jill Stein’s statements on Palestine-Israel referred to in this letter:

Truthout interview 1/29/12:

http://truth-out.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=6240:the-party-of-our-discontent-an-interview-with-green-party-candidate-jill-stein

Jill Stein Campaign Press Release 5/15/12

http://www.jillstein.org/palestine_israel_statement

PolitGu.com 7/12/12

http://www.thepoliticalguide.com/Profiles/President/US/Jill_Stein/Views/Israel/

Jill Stein Campaign Press Release 10/8/12

http://www.jillstein.org/first_jewish_presidential_contender_welcomes_russell_tribunal_on_palestine_findings

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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14 Responses

  1. Les
    October 13, 2012, 10:13 am

    She has spoken in support of the platform pledge of cutting off aid to Israel until changes are made. What has happened since?

  2. Dan Crowther
    October 13, 2012, 10:52 am

    Now THIS is what I’m talking about. Kudos to the undersigned – this is exactly what is needed. The best part is, Stein is still “niche” enough that pressure like this will actually matter.

  3. Citizen
    October 13, 2012, 11:47 am

    Jill Stein grew up in Highland Park, Illinois. You have to really know about that wealthy area before you know the rich Jewish liberal bubble she grew up in, which I do. She’s trying. I admire her. But you know, comparing third party candidates, take a look at, not just the Green Party’s Stein, but the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson. He worked his way through college as a self-employed handyman. Unlike Stein, he individually paid for his own education. The difference show, Stein ultimately sees Government as she sees her well-off parents, but the Average American family earner is more like Johnson’s than Stein’s, that is, much less well off economically. Check this out–the audio is very low, so listen intently, as Johnson answers questions about what the US relation with Israel should be, as well as foreign aid generally: link to youtube.com

    Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, merely does not exclude Israel from blanket cut to foreign aid; he says the US is historically responsible for legitimizing Israel, and Israel is our ally, but the US should not support Israel’s war on Iran.

    Jill Stein is on record as saying the US should help Israel and Palestinians equally, but she does not get into $ numbers on foreign aid to Israel, as compared to $ aid to Israel.

    • German Lefty
      October 13, 2012, 5:16 pm

      @ Citizen

      Jill Stein grew up in Highland Park, Illinois. You have to really know about that wealthy area before you know the rich Jewish liberal bubble she grew up in, which I do. [...] The Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson [...] worked his way through college as a self-employed handyman. Unlike Stein, he individually paid for his own education.

      Please don’t judge people based on their (parents’) wealth. What matters are people’s views and actions. Sometimes I have the impression that US liberals try to convey the message that “rich = evil”. However, this is just as wrong as the conservatives’ assumption that “poor = lazy”.

      • Citizen
        October 13, 2012, 7:23 pm

        @ German Lefty
        I looked very closely at the stated views of both Stein and Johnson today as I was working on my mail-in vote. When looking at their statements on all the key issues, both domestic and foreign, and finding out over-all nothing decisive as between the two of them, I felt it was time to look at their respective personal histories. Color me impure.

    • Keith
      October 13, 2012, 6:52 pm

      CITIZEN- Gary Johnson may have a blue collar background, but his Libertarian policies would destroy what remains of the middle and lower classes. He wants to cut taxes and privatize government, relying on the magic of the market to produce his libertarian miracle. A few copy and paste quotes from his website with comments by me.

      On healthcare, forget single payer, the solution is full privatization: “Reduced costs and better service are what a free, functional marketplace will provide – if the government stays out of the way. Health care is no exception. Competition, price transparency, and the innovation that will result from a robust marketplace will accomplish the fundamental goals of affordability and access in ways the government cannot possibly accomplish.” Why wait for Obama to trash Medicare when Johnson will do it now.

      “Reassess the role of the federal government and identify responsibilities that can be met more efficiently by the private sector.” If this isn’t neoliberalism on steroids, I don’t know what is. Privatize, privatize, privatize. Welcome to the eighteenth century. We are headed there now with Obama, but why take so long?

      “Abolish the Internal Revenue Service. Enact the Fair Tax to tax expenditures, rather than income, with a ‘prebate’ to make spending on basic necessities tax free. With the Fair Tax, eliminate business taxes, withholding and other levies that penalize productivity, while creating millions of jobs.” Fair tax? Another name for regressive sales taxes. This is a corporate/fat-cat dream come true.

      It is obvious to me that the Libertarian Party has no conception of how money functions in a modern, complex society. If you think that the 99% would be better served by blue collar Johnson than by ‘privileged’ Stein, then you are very much mistaken.

  4. Newclench
    October 13, 2012, 1:19 pm

    Dear Jill Stein: having won your party’s nomination on the basis of your own hard work, vision and proposals, you are guilty of not adhering sufficiently to the platform of your party. Please ditch any of your opinions and priorities that do not conform to that platform!

    Better she should follow the much Green-er ideas of the German Green Party and their international aid foundation, the Boll Foundation. They do great work in Israel and Palestine.

    • Cliff
      October 13, 2012, 3:10 pm

      Dear Jill Stein,

      Stay clear of phony liberals and/or progressives like Clencher.

      Same old clench, new b.s.

    • German Lefty
      October 13, 2012, 3:31 pm

      @ Newclench

      having won your party’s nomination on the basis of your own hard work, vision and proposals, you are guilty of not adhering sufficiently to the platform of your party. Please ditch any of your opinions and priorities that do not conform to that platform!
      Why is Jill Stein a member of the Green Party when she doesn’t agree with the platform? As presidential candidate, she represents that party and its platform. One state or two states is a significant difference. As the majority of GPUS members supports the one-state solution, I expect Ms Stein to respect that democratic decision. It is important to demonstrate unity to the outside world. Otherwise, people might say: “Look, the Green Party members don’t know what they want and aren’t even able to agree on such a basic issue. We can’t vote for this chaotic party.”

      Better she should follow the much Green-er ideas of the German Green Party and their international aid foundation, the Boll Foundation.
      Oh, no! They support a two-state solution. Apparently, they suffer from guilt for something that they haven’t done. Anyway, I am very impressed that GPUS officially supports the one-state solution. Majorly progressive.

    • Keith
      October 13, 2012, 7:24 pm

      NEWCLENCH- “Better she should follow the much Green-er ideas of the German Green Party….”

      Are you joking? The German Greens haven’t been progressive for quite some time. They have been co-opted into the system. This process began with the rise of prominent Green Joschka Fischer to the key post of Germany’s foreign minister, and his support for NATO’s attack on the former Yugoslavia. The German Greens also supported the War on Terror and the deployment of German soldiers to Afghanistan. Once again, Joschka Fischer led the way. US Greens responded: “An open letter from the Green Party USA to the German Greens on November 7 said, “Most Greens worldwide recognize that this is a war for oil and political domination and will do nothing to protect US citizens or any people from terrorism. Joschka Fischer and the … Greens who are propping up the German government have put power before principle. Their claim that they must participate in the war effort in order to make it more humane is obscene. They seem to be saying that by keeping themselves part of the government they can make ‘humanitarian’ cluster bombs or ‘cancer-free’ depleted uranium casings. This is nonsense.”
      link to greens.org

  5. tommy
    October 13, 2012, 2:38 pm

    My skepticism of the Green Party is informed by a suspicion it accepts the dominance of American power to subjugate the rest of the world as expressed by the similar foreign policies of Republicans and Democrats. Although it is encouraging to read at least the GP has open discussions about the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and what America’s policy should be towards it, I disagree with the Green Party platform as related in the post. Using American power to impose a one state solution without allowing the oppressed to dominate the dialogue may seem like an alternative, but it is not a rejection of American hegemony over the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis, which is the only path to liberation for them and ourselves.

  6. Clif Brown
    October 13, 2012, 3:13 pm

    You are swimming in the middle of the ocean, struggling to stay above water. In all directions it is same-old, same-old. Suddenly, you spot an air mattress. Do you hesitate, wondering if it is properly inflated, pause because you wonder how it got there?

    When I read the position statement on the Green Party website concerning the Russell Tribunal, I immediately sent the largest political donation I have ever made to any political party.

    I look at Obama and Romney and am disgusted. The two are what can be expected of a rotten process that is completely entrenched, accepted by a gullible public that thinks what has recently taken place between the two on TV was a debate.

    McCabe/Kovel offer a detailed critique of the air mattress, but I will grab for it anyway.

  7. Keith
    October 13, 2012, 6:09 pm

    While I respect Joel Kovel and loved his book “Overcoming Zionism,” I am very disappointed by this letter which, I feel, misrepresents both the Green Party platform and political reality.

    First the platform on a one state solution: “We recognize that international opinion has been committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet, we view the two-state solution as neither democratic nor viable in the face of international law, material conditions and “facts on the ground” that now exist in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Given this reality, we support a U.S. foreign policy that promotes the creation of one secular, democratic state for Palestinians and Israelis on the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan as the national home of both peoples, with Jerusalem as its capital. We encourage a new U.S. diplomatic initiative to begin the long process of negotiation, laying the groundwork for such a single-state constitution.”

    Support for a policy that promotes the creation of one secular democratic state through a US diplomatic initiative to begin the long process of negotiation, laying the groundwork for such a single-state solution. Beginning a long process. Idealized goals. A high priority action plan? Thankfully, no. What should be the priority?

    From the platform: “Therefore, we call on the U.S. President and Congress to suspend all military and foreign aid, including loans and grants, to Israel until Israel withdraws from the Occupied Territories, dismantles the separation wall in the Occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem, ends its siege of Gaza and its apartheid-like system both within the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in Israel toward its non-Jewish citizens.”

    What does Jill Stein say? “In particular, the United States has encouraged the worst tendencies of the Israeli government as it pursues policies of occupation, apartheid, assassination, illegal settlements, blockades, building of nuclear bombs, indefinite detention, collective punishment, and defiance of international law. Instead of allying with the courageous proponents of peace within Israel and Palestine, our government has rewarded consistent abusers of human rights. There is no peace or justice or democracy at the end of such a path. We must reset U.S. policy regarding Israel and Palestine, as part of a broader revision of U.S. policy towards the Middle East.”

    Her statement on the Russell Tribunal reiterated that “The 2012 platform of the Green Party of the United States urges support for “popular movements for peace and demilitarization in Israel-Palestine, especially those that reach across the lines of conflict to engage both Palestinians and Israelis of good will.” The platform specifically recognizes the rights of self-determination of all peoples in Israel-Palestine, the legal right of return for refugees from the conflict, the suspension of U.S. aid to Israel, the use of boycott and divestment as non-violent means to pressure corporations and the Israeli government to end human rights abuses, and the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, “whose inaugurating action would be mutual acknowledgement by Israelis and Palestinians that they have the same basic rights, including the right to exist in the same, secure place.”

    I don’t see the problem. Arguing about the final resolution of the Israel/Palestine conflict is both presumptuous for Americans and a misdirection of priorities. The emphasis should be on ending the massive human rights abuses now, ending the siege of Gaza now, ending the occupation now, tearing down the wall now. That is the part of the platform which Jill Stein is wisely emphasizing. Until fundamental conditions improve dramatically, it is pointless to start wrangling over 1 state versus 2, something which the Israelis and Palestinians need to work out for themselves when the conditions are created to make this possible. Besides, is it the Palestinians who are calling out for a one-state solution, or Joel Kovel and Lenni Brenner?

  8. ColinWright
    October 14, 2012, 1:48 am

    PEP

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