War: November 2003 Archives

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree under arrest, for being attractive

Apparently we have everything to fear, especially fear itself.

Bush is in the White House.

On Sunday Newsday's Dennis Duggan stared that fear in the eye. He didn't blink.

I went to Rockefeller Center yesterday to take in the preparations for next week's Christmas tree lighting, a sparkling symbol of good will.

But what a surprise to see the tree surrounded by heavily armed anti-terror cops.

And my reception was anything but warm: Private security guards bum-rushed me twice.

In between these two sets of verbal walking papers, I sat on an outdoor bench with Gregory Murphy, 50, who had witnessed the destruction of the Twin Towers from his Brooklyn Heights home.

"These people here," he said, pointing to some of the patrolling security guards who work for Tishman Speyer Properties, "are making me very nervous."

Tishman Speyer owns Rockefeller Center, the Chrysler Building and 666 Fifth Avenue.

Earlier in the day, they turned down my request to speak to their security people.

"They are worried about security," I was told by a flak-catcher with the Howard Rubenstein public relations firm, which represents Tishman Speyer.

Murphy, an engineer, was trying to relax - which was difficult among bomb-sniffing canines.

"It's pretty nerve-racking. I saw those police, kids really, with their fingers on the triggers, and that didn't make me feel secure at all."

I was stopped by square-badge security guards patrolling the plaza. The first time I was asked what I was doing there. "I hope you're not interviewing anyone," one of them warned.

Of course I was, and I was doing it the second time a security guard on the real estate developer's payroll stopped me. This time I was asked to show my press card, but after flashing it, I still wasn't allowed to cross Fifth Avenue and enter Rockefeller Plaza.

Merry Christmas?

It should have been obvious for some time that both the interests of terrorists everywhere and those of a hell-bent administration in Washington are being served by our fear, especially since the extraordinary security measures it inspires are not likely to confound any intelligent plans of the former and they certainly ease the way for the agenda of the latter.

FDR was speaking about the depression when he warned the country against fear, but he was to be no stranger to either domestic disaster or real war. He would be ashamed of our cowardice and our stupidity today.

[image from Newsday/Julia Gaines]

Ted Rall reports on a few interesting numbers in his latest relaying that we're killing 44 innocent civilians in Iraq every day [documented] while "Saddam Hussein only killed 36 Iraqis a day during his 23 years in power."

Do we want totals? Respectable sources [there are no official numbers, since our government isn't interested in the subject] report that from seven to eight thousand Iraqi civilians were killed before the administration claimed victory, and about 1500 since.

So of course it makes perfect sense that we've also killed well over 400 Americans in order to get to these numbers, right?

Incidently less than 3000 people died in the U.S. as a result of the terrorist acts of September 11, the ostensible reason for our own record of killings in Western Asia.

In sum, over the last two years, supposedly in revenge for the deaths of those 3,000, somewhere just under 10,000 people have already died who had absolutely nothing to do with those events.

But again, we feel so much safer now, don't we?

How could you? Down here there are a lot of us who look to your good sense these days, since we have nothing of that stuff left ourselves.

Maybe we can now understand why the Canadian government hardly complained when the U.S. deported one of its citiizens to Syria last year. While returning home to Ottowa from a vacation abroad with his family that September, computer consultant Maher Arar had stopped in New York to change planes. Instead, he was detained and deported by the U.S. government.

He subsequently spent over a year in Syrian prisons, enduring beatings and tortures, and he has just returned home to Canada after being suddenly released last month. Arar and his family are accusing the Canadian security agencies, particularly the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, of providing information to U.S. authorities that led to his deportation.

After a virtual blackout of information for the last year, Canadian officials are now scrambling around trying to make just the right kind of fuss about the impropriety of the actions of the U.S. authorities and loudly denying that they themselves had anything to do with the outrage to one of their own.

I don't think it's going to work out well for them, even if they aren't likely to suffer the consequences that awaited Maher Arar.

the Apartheid Wall in Qalqilya

Meaning the grotesque Apartheid Wall being built by the Israelis in the occupied West Bank. Of course the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) have a euphemism: In English, it's "the obstacle".

This Sunday, November 9, there will be demonstrations around the world against the injustice of the wall and the occupation of Palestine, but only if you go.

This particular date was selected in June by the PENGON/Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign in order to coincide with the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Some of us remember an additional significance for this date. November 9 is also the 65th anniversary of Kristallnacht .

[One other editorial note: Is it not appropriate to point out again and again that "the history" so often invoked to support Zionism, and especially its current abominations, is absolutely not the history of Palestine or Palestinians? And this petition comes from a German-American who wants nothing so much as to see people flourish in each other's society.]

In Manhattan supporters will be walking through the streets with mock-ups of the real wall (in some areas, concrete and 25 feet high, with incredibly-evocative gun turrets) being built in Palestine to separate peoples, families and communities.

In the U.S., there will be similar demonstrations in Berleley, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pasedena and Santa Monica, California; in Iowa City, Iowa; Boston, Massachusetts; Maryville, Missouri; and Seattle, Washington. They will be joined abroad by activists in Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Norway, Scotland, Spain and England, and this list is still in formation.

The most moving of all the actions should be the mobilizations expected all across the West Bank. Sunday's people hope to have news of these events by the time things start in Midtown Manhattan.

For more information, visit the Stop the Wall site.

If you're an American, talk to your government. Israel couldn't do any of this without us. Although a "first-world" nation, with one of the world's highest per capita incomes and boasting the fourth largest military force in the world, it receives over one-third of the total US aid to foreign countries.

In New York people will meet Sunday at 1 pm around the Button and Needle Sculpture in the garment district, at the corner of 7th Avenue and 40th Street.

[image from PENGON]

This page is an archive of entries in the War category from November 2003.

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