by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired
I went to a small but spirited rally at the Oakland Federal Building this afternoon. Most of us there were leftists or political activists of one type or another. I shot a bit of video of the picket and chants but the woman's contribution in the video above is what I felt the need to get up on this blog. Her name is Dalit Baum and she is an Israeli activist with the American Friends Services Committee.
I want to urge my friends, not my political colleagues and comrades as we are all aware of the details of life in Gaza and places like it; it's what makes us political encourages us to fight back, to make a little history rather than be victims of it. I urge my former co-workers, the people I hike with, drink with, laugh with, meet at the store, the gas station and in every day life to listen to what she has to say. She is an Israeli woman, a Jewish woman, and although I am aware of the situation in general, listening to her made it concrete. We have differences in what the solution to these crises might be but her contribution here is powerful and all who fight back should be respected and we should work together where we can.
I often compare life in Gaza and the Zionist's control of that life to the movie Total Recall. In this movie, there is a mining colony on Mars and the rebels there are fighting for their freedom and control of their natural resources. The "empire"controls the air that they breathe and the water that they drink and if they act up the empire cuts of this lifeline. The empire demands total submission. This is why I compare it to Gaza. The Zionists control every aspect of Gazan's daily life and despite this, the elected government of Gaza is, according to the Obama administration and the Pentagon, a terrorist force. This control is made possible through US military support and money. The cuts we face at home are partly due to the support our government gives to these murderers.
What this woman describes, the total control of the activity of 1.7 million people is not for them alone. We have seen the beefing up of the police state here in the US during and in the aftermath of the Occupy Movement. Every technological control used against Palestinians will be used against American workers and youth at home as we are forced to fight back against US capitalism's efforts to make us pay for their crisis and their corporate wars. We are seeing it now as dictators overrule elected officials in municipalities and drones patrol domestic skies and it certainly exists in the communities and especially the prison system that incarcerates more than two million Americans.
As I rode the subway to the rally in Oakland, the coliseum emptied out and the crowds that watched the A's win 14 to 1 I think it was swarmed in to the carriages. I had a seat and they surrounded me. Immediately in front of me were a family of four, two daughters it looked like and mum and dad.
I opened the conversation.
"I assume you're all going to the rally against the slaughter in Gaza" I said so they could all hear.
This caused a laugh, a sort of embarrassed laugh though.
"I have never seen so many white people on the train before..." I said, "I feel a bit uneasy".
Another chuckle; they took it well.
I then got a bit serious about the massacre that is going on in Gaza and that our tax money pays for it.
The two young one's could see I had shifted to serious mode and one of them did comment on the fact that "The tension has been building up there for a long time." Like most of us, she knew absolutely nothing about what was actually happening there and why. Like most Americans, she believes Jews and Muslims simply can't get along and this conflict has gone on for centuries.
We had no more time to talk and I ended with some comment about how we cannot continue to shut our eyes to what happens around us and in the world. I quoted Pericles, "Just because you don't take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you."
We cannot go on in this fashion
To my friends in this small (ish) town where we live. A conscious and determined group of people can change things, can open the door to a new road. We can make a statement about Gaza and we can have an affect on the world around us before it is too late. At very least, we have an obligation to ourselves to probe, to find out what is going on. I understand the danger of this, for then should we not act? But fighting back is better than doing nothing. There is nothing more demoralizing than being the victim.
I do not want to be alarmist, we are not on the verge of catastrophe, but these are "dark days" as the woman in the video says and they will get darker. And for some, like the prisoners of Gaza with bombs raining down on them, it must seem like hell on earth. Here, the American Dream never really existed for most people and it has gone forever.
The 100 members of the US Congress this week voted unanimously to support the crazed, racist Zionist slaughter in Gaza. They are not the Americans I know and live with; they don't represent me, they represent corporate profits. There were many American Jews there tonight standing up for Palestinians, but there were not enough of us.
Please share this video in any way you can. And if you live in my community and even if your life is such that you are consumed with just surviving and some people are in that situation, share it with young people you know that are looking to change the world around them. Tell them to contact me or this blog at email@example.com
There is no individual solution to this. We have two alternatives, we go down as individuals or we fight back. We have the numbers, we have the power as we do the work in society. We can win.
- AFSCME Local 444 negotiations assesment 1997
- Preparing for Revolution: A discussion document
- The Internal lives of Revolutionary Organizations
- Socialist Alternative members: Questions and Answers
- Sanders: Our Alternative
- The Nature of the New European Left
- University of California workers and Unions
- An Invitation to Our Readers
- Facts For Working People Weekly Phone Conferences and Discussions
- Help open The AFL-CIO AIFLD Archives