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How long must we wait for ‘the fierce urgency of now’?

Israel/Palestine
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King

King

Joining 132 others, two self-described progressive congressmembers, James McGovern (D-MA) and Alan Grayson (D-FL) lambasted the American Studies Association for having the audacity to join Palestinians in the boycott of institutions that are complicit in the military occupation of Palestinian land.

While these congressmembers are opposing boycotts, a nonviolent tactic used by the civil rights movement and advocated by Dr. Martin Luther King JR., and again used against the South African regime in the 1980’s, these congressmembers instead have and will support increasing and massive military aid to Israel, even though Israel systematically violates the rights of Palestinians.  The weapons provided by Congress will be used to help the Israeli military “single-out” Palestinians for home demolitions, farm destruction, to violently and willfully break up their non-violent protests. It is McGovern, Grayson and the rest of Congress that provide the means to keep the people of Gaza in a planned state of grinding poverty, a people always on the brink of starvation.  It is their vote that provides the means for Israel to build without hesitation and in open mockery to the stated position of President Obama, more and more illegal settlement housing.

Why is it that these so-called self-described progressives oppose nonviolent and legal consequences for an apartheid regime? Why are they instead by their actions supporting violent suppression of protest, and the forced ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people to ever smaller parts of historic Palestine?  At what point will they take action for justice?  Instead, they come to the aid of oppressive institutions that are finally being held accountable for complicity in the occupation.

They plea for “patience” while the status quo is killing any hope for peace.  When is the time that they will recognize “the urgency of the moment and sense the need for powerful ‘action’”, as Martin Luther King wrote just over 50 years ago. Now is not the time to plea for peace that is void of any justice. That is not peace, that is mere attempts at pacification, and it will never lead to real peace.

It is true that Mr. Grayson and Mr. McGovern are not alone. In fact in congress there is not one that advocates for even a reduction of military aid to Israel, despite its refusal to abide by international law, despite the pleas of human rights groups and peace groups around the country and the world.

King reminded us that “we are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late.” It is not too late however, not yet. A growing grassroots and worldwide movement for justice and peace in the Holy Land will overwhelm those that stand supporting the status quo.  We hope that Mr. McGovern and Mr. Grayson and others will join that movement, or at least have the wisdom to step aside.

Jim Harris
About Jim Harris

Jim Harris is a founder of the “Stop AIPAC” website that supports and documents protests of AIPAC around the country in support of peace in the Middle East

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10 Responses

  1. Justpassingby
    Justpassingby
    January 20, 2014, 2:41 pm

    PRo-israel lobby is racist against ‘goys’ in the middle east. Thats the problem.

  2. Linda J
    Linda J
    January 20, 2014, 3:01 pm

    Jim Crow and apartheid in Palestine is alright with Grayson and McGovern. How proud their constituents must be! Wrong side of history: a shame and a sham.

  3. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    January 20, 2014, 4:07 pm

    RE: “Joining 132 others, two self-described progressive congressmembers, James McGovern (D-MA) and Alan Grayson (D-FL) lambasted the American Studies Association for having the audacity to join Palestinians in the boycott of institutions that are complicit in the military occupation of Palestinian land… They plea for ‘patience’ while the status quo is killing any hope for peace. When is the time that they will recognize “the urgency of the moment and sense the need for powerful ‘action’ . . . ~ Jim Harris

    REGARDING “THE FIERCE URGENCY OF NOW” FROM THE “I HAVE A DREAM” SPEECH (on August 28, 1963), SEE THESE EXCERPTS FROM THE EARLIER “Letter From Birmingham Jail”, By Rev. M.L.K. Jr., April 16, 1963

    MY DEAR FELLOW CLERGYMEN:

    [EXCERPTS] While confined here in the Birmingham City Jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. . . But since I feel that you are men of genuine goodwill and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statements in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms. . .

    . . . You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. . . I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. . .

    . . . One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: “Why didn’t you give the new city administration time to act?” The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. . . My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

    We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

    We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. . .

    . . . I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

    I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

    In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. . . We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.

    I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: “All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. . .” Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely rational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity. . .

    SOURCE – http://abacus.bates.edu/admin/offices/dos/mlk/letter.html

  4. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    January 20, 2014, 4:53 pm

    “It is true that Mr. Grayson and Mr. McGovern are not alone. In fact in congress there is not one that advocates for even a reduction of military aid to Israel, despite its refusal to abide by international law, despite the pleas of human rights groups and peace groups around the country and the world.

    King reminded us that “we are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late.” It is not too late however, not yet. A growing grassroots and worldwide movement for justice and peace in the Holy Land will overwhelm those that stand supporting the status quo. We hope that Mr. McGovern and Mr. Grayson and others will join that movement, or at least have the wisdom to step aside.”

    A description of so called progressive Dems standing in the way of justice for the Palestinians. We all know this has been going on for decades. So called progressive Dems being humanitarians when it comes to domestic issues but being right wing radicals when it comes the Israeli Palestinian conflict. They are being exposed.

    They are terrified of the BDS movement because awareness is rising and their is no escaping the inevitability of a fair two state solution based on the 67 border or a one state solution that completely exposes the apartheid state of Israel. There is no going back and they know it.
    ———————————————————-

    Today on the Boulder Colorado Mall a coalition of young high school students led the MLK ceremony. Music, speakers, poets talking about discrimination against immigrants, gays, blacks. I took my “Stop U.S. funding of Israeli aggression” Six different students came up and wanted to talk about the issue. I mostly listened and asked a few questions. Along with encouraging them to come to this site and If Americans Knew. One young woman’s mother had grown up in Israel. I asked her what her mother thought. She responded “my mother thinks there is too much Israeli aggression but that both sides are equally wrong” We talked about this. I asked her how she would feel if I came and took her families house and land and sent her family on their way at gun point. She was stunned. I calmly asked her what she would do? How she would feel? Would she want to retaliate and was I more at fault than her family for violently taking control of her families home? She got it. We talked more about false equivalency arguments. That “both sides are equally wrong” is a twisted and inaccurate claim.

    Had several women my age walk up (one a Boulder high school teacher who was Jewish) and say “this is not the place for this” (the sign I had) She also said the “students and I have worked very hard on this event” I responded “this is a great event and I noticed your students were passing out stickers of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s quote that said ” Injustice anywhere is a threat to injustice everywhere” I shared that I thought my sign was perfect for the event and asked her if she stood by that quote. She responded with “well that situation is different” “No” I replied “it is not” She went on about “how no one had wanted the Jews during WWII” then something about “well the Bible says” all of the standard arguments. I then asked her “are these issues any excuse for the way the Palestinians have been discriminated against and oppressed for decades” She walked away quite pissed.

    Lots of great conversations about the I/P issue, racism, discrimination and oppression with younger people today on the Boulder Mall. Hope they will be coming to Mondoweiss to learn more and discuss the issues

  5. Citizen
    Citizen
    January 20, 2014, 5:50 pm

    What did MLK actually do?
    Is it time for the Palestinians themselves to actually act under MLK’s guidance, that is, do what he actually did? http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/08/29/1011562/-Most-of-you-have-no-idea-what-Martin-Luther-King-actually-did?detail=email

    Or is it too much to expect, considering how timid the protest is here in USA, post ML, as to protesting Israel and US enablement of it’s jim/crow/apartheid system?

  6. radico
    radico
    January 20, 2014, 7:58 pm

    “Why is it that these so-called self-described progressives oppose nonviolent and legal consequences for an apartheid regime? Why are they instead by their actions supporting violent suppression of protest, and the forced ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people to ever smaller parts of historic Palestine?”

    The main reason is that American society, including all major news outlets, ignore Israeli aggression and occupation of Palestinians. Whereas Americans largely ignore Palestinians and the Israeli dispossession of Palestinians from 1948, most Americans look at Jews only as victims who suffered through the Holocaust were murdered in mass murder, and thus need a Jewish state. This one-sided and selective understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian situation is extremely widespread throughout the US, and even supposedly progressive politicians accept it. It is like Americans view Jews as frozen in the time of the Holocaust, failing to realize that victims can become aggressors.

  7. Mike_Konrad
    Mike_Konrad
    January 21, 2014, 1:31 am

    Well, right now, the Palestino Soccer Team has been forced to back down.

    Chile Bans Palestino Jersey

    I am NOT upset by the outcome, but I was surprised. The Palestinians are powerful in Chile.

    Israel is NOT going to budge. I am not even trying to get you to see this as right or wrong. Just see it as fact.

    Even were it were apartheid, …

    The whites of South Africa, and the American South justified their social structure base on a belief in their inherent supremacy.

    In Israel’s case, they seem themselves as victims. This is not the same internal dynamic.

    I do not see the Israeli system as apartheid; but even so, the Jews of Israel see themselves as both superior to the Arab, while simultaneously victims.

    One could lay guilt on an Afrikaner or a Southerner; but it will not work on an Israeli Jew.

    Economic coercion will not work either.

    But first get your terms right. Israel is not running an apartheid system.

    Rather she is running an East European police state system ala Kafkaesque. Secret Police and informers everywhere. She does this for security concerns – which are real; but it is more Kafkaesque than apartheid. Security is the chief reason.

    With that in mind, the boycott campaign and anti-apartheid campaign will not work. Israel is advanced enough to get around the boycott. She will never admit to an apartheid label – particularly since it is not true.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      January 21, 2014, 4:06 pm

      @ Mike_Konrad
      Yes, it’s true that the Jewish Israelis will never succumb to guilt so long as the lone superpower USA funds the so lavishly and supports them at the UN. Anything else?

    • oneof5
      oneof5
      January 21, 2014, 8:29 pm

      Mikey sez:

      “The whites of South Africa, and the American South justified their social structure base on a belief in their inherent supremacy.

      In Israel’s case, they seem themselves as victims. This is not the same internal dynamic.”
      Your logic is flawed … self-identification as victims (or having been victimized) and a belief in an inherent supremacy are not necessarily mutually exclusive …

      Try relying on logic a little more, and faith/eschatology a little less …

  8. seafoid
    seafoid
    January 21, 2014, 8:15 am

    It sounds funny but it is actually the Israelis who need to understand the fierce urgency of now. The fierce panic of how did we get here OMG WTF do we do now is far worse.

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