What Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. might say to Bono and US!

Eileen Fleming

Posted Jan 17, 2010      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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What Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. might say to Bono and US!

by Eileen Fleming

In 1967 at Riverside Church, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the sermon and speech, Beyond Vietnam: Time to Break Silence, and addressed three of America’s demons; racism, materialism and militarism.

He called our government; “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” and “the war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit.”

Being a person of faith, King knew the power that was within and that, “there is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war.”

King knew that the only hope for real change “…lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism…The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.”

Two years ago, Israeli President Shimon Peres invited Bono to attend a conference in Israel marking Israel’s 60th Anniversary and to honor its contributions in medicine, science, and conservation.

Bono didn’t make that trip, but this summer he is scheduled to perform in Israel.

In a recent New York Times op-ed, Bono wrote of his hope “that the regimes in North Korea, Myanmar and elsewhere are taking note of the trouble an aroused citizenry can give to tyrants.”

Bono wrote of his hope that “people in places filled with rage and despair, places like the Palestinian territories, will in the days ahead find among them their Gandhi, their King, their Aung San Suu Kyi.”

Bono is apparently clueless that an “aroused citizenry” of people of conscience have already responded to the tyranny of Israel’s military occupation and apartheid practices by joining the Palestinian civil society’s call for NONVIOLENT Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions against Israel until they change their undemocratic behavior.

Bono is apparently also unaware of the thousands of NONVIOLENT resisters to the Israeli occupation who have been imprisoned by Israel without charges or trials.

And so, to commemorate Martin Luther King Day 2010, I spin what King might say to Bono:

In 1985, you joined forces with a group of artists concerned about Apartheid in South Africa and were inspired by your meetings with several of them, to write “Silver and Gold”

U2 - Freedom For My People/Silver And Gold (Rattle and Hum)

Yep, silver and gold.
This song was written in a hotel room in New York City.
‘Round about the time a friend or ours, little Steven,
was putting together a record of artists against apartheid.
This is a song written about a man in a shanty town outside of Johannesburg.
A man who’s sick of looking down the barrel of white South Africa.
A man who is at the point where he is ready to take up arms against his oppressor.
A man who has lost faith in the peacemakers of the west while
they argue and while they fail to support a man like bishop Tutu
and his request for economic sanctions against South Africa.
Am I buggin’ you?

I mean to bug you Bono, because the only way to break this monster’s back is by first understanding WHY it is Apartheid in the ‘Holy’ Land!

In 2004, the International Court of Justice ruled that Israel’s Wall is a violation of International Law because it cuts through the West Bank appropriating Palestinian land and destroying Palestinian villages and economy to make way for Jewish only colonies, which are been spun as neighborhoods by limp media and colluding governments.

Haaretz columnist Danny Rubinstein recently spoke at the UN and admitted that “Israel today was an apartheid State with four different Palestinian groups: those in Gaza, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Israeli Palestinians, each of which had a different status…even if the wall followed strictly the line of the pre-1967 border, it would still not be justified. The two peoples needed cooperation rather than walls because they must be neighbors.” [1]

“An apartheid society is much more than just a ‘settler colony’. It involves specific forms of oppression that actively strip the original inhabitants of any rights at all, whereas civilian members of the invader caste are given all kinds of sumptuous privileges.” [2]

On May 14, 1948, The Declaration of the establishment of Israel affirmed that, “The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations.”

However, reality intrudes, for “The truth which is known to all; through its army, the government of Israel practices a brutal form of Apartheid in the territory it occupies. Its army has turned every Palestinian village and town into a fenced-in, or blocked-in, detention camp.”- Israeli Minister of Education, Shulamit Aloni quoted in the Israeli newspaper, Yediot Acharonot on December 20, 2006.

How could a state founded on “equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants” come to be such a state of hypocrisy?

A Little History:

July 5, 1950: Israel enacted the Law of Return by which Jews anywhere in the world, have a “right” to immigrate to Israel on the grounds that they are returning to their own state, even if they have never been there before. [3]

July 14, 1952: The enactment of the Citizenship/Jewish Nationality Law, results in Israel becoming the only state in the world to grant a particular national-religious group—the Jews—the right to settle in it and gain automatic citizenship. In 1953, South Africa’s Prime Minister Daniel Malan becomes the first foreign head of government to visit Israel and returns home with the message that Israel can be a source of inspiration for white South Africans. [IBID]

In 1962, South African Prime Minister Verwoerd declares that Jews “took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. In that I agree with them, Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.” [IBID]

August 1, 1967: Israel enacted the Agricultural Settlement Law, which bans Israeli citizens of non-Jewish nationality- Palestinian Arabs- from working on Jewish National Fund lands, well over 80% of the land in Israel. Knesset member Uri Avnery stated: “This law is going to expel Arab cultivators from the land that was formerly theirs and was handed over to the Jews.” [IBID]

April 4, 1969: General Moshe Dayan is quoted in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz telling students at Israel’s Technion Institute that “Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You don’t even know the names of these Arab villages, and I don’t blame you, because these geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either… There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”[IBID]

April 28, 1971: C. L. Sulzberger, writing in The New York Times, quoted South African Prime Minister John Vorster as saying that Israel is faced with an apartheid problem, namely how to handle its Arab inhabitants. Sulzberger wrote: “Both South Africa and Israel are in a sense intruder states. They were built by pioneers originating abroad and settling in partially inhabited areas.” [IBID]

September 13, 1978: In Washington, D.C., The Camp David Accords are signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and witnessed by President Jimmy Carter. The Accords reaffirm U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338, which prohibit acquisition of land by force, call for Israel’s withdrawal of military and civilian forces from the West Bank and Gaza, and prescribe ‘full autonomy’ for the inhabitants of the territories. Begin orally promises Carter to freeze all settlement activity during the subsequent peace talks. Once back in Israel, however, the Israeli prime minister continues to confiscate, settle, and fortify the occupied territories. [IBID]

September 13, 1985: Rep. George Crockett (D-MI), after visiting the Israeli-occupied West Bank, compares the living conditions there with those of South African blacks and concludes that the West Bank is an instance of apartheid that no one in the U.S. is talking about. [IBID]

In July 2000, President Bill Clinton convenes the Camp David II Peace Summit between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. Clinton—not Barak—offers Arafat the withdrawal of some 40,000 Jewish settlers, leaving more than 180,000 in 209 settlements, all of which are interconnected by roads that cover approximately 10% of the occupied land. Effectively, this divides the West Bank into at least two non-contiguous areas and multiple fragments. Palestinians would have no control over the borders around them, the air space above them, or the water reserves under them. Barak called it a ‘generous offer” and Arafat rightly refused to sign away the rights of Palestinian civil society. [IBID]

August 31, 2001: Durban, South Africa, 50,000 South Africans marched in support of the Palestinian people. In their “Declaration by South Africans on Apartheid and the Struggle for Palestine” they proclaimed: “We, South Africans who lived for decades under rulers with a colonial mentality, see Israeli occupation as a strange survival of colonialism in the 21st century. Only in Israel do we hear of ‘settlements’ and ‘settlers.’ Only in Israel do soldiers and armed civilian groups take over hilltops, demolish homes, uproot trees and destroy crops, shell schools, churches and mosques, plunder water reserves, and block access to an indigenous population’s freedom of movement and right to earn a living. These human rights violations were unacceptable in apartheid South Africa and are an affront to us in apartheid Israel.” [IBID]

October 23, 2001: Ronnie Kasrils, a Jew and a minister in the South African government, co-authors a petition “Not in My Name,” signed by some 200 members of South Africa’s Jewish community, which stated: “It becomes difficult, from a South African perspective, not to draw parallels with the oppression expressed by Palestinians under the hand of Israel and the oppression experienced in South Africa under apartheid rule.” [IBID]

Three years later, Kasrils will go to the Occupied Territories and conclude: “This is much worse than apartheid. Israeli measures, the brutality, make apartheid look like a picnic. We never had jets attacking our townships. We never had sieges that lasted month after month. We never had tanks destroying houses. We had armored vehicles and police using small arms to shoot people but not on this scale.” [IBID]

April 29, 2002: Boston, MA. South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu says he is “very deeply distressed” by what he observed in his recent visit to the Holy Land, adding, “It reminded me so much of what happened in South Africa.”

The Nobel peace laureate said he saw “the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about.”

Referring to Americans, he added, “People are scared in this country to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful—very powerful. Well, so what? The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists.” [IBID]

On July 26, 1973, a UN draft resolution affirmed the rights of the Palestinians and established provisions for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories as embodied in previous General Assembly resolutions, but the American Government killed this international effort to end Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. [4]

It was ‘civilized’ men who carved up the Holy Land vis-à-vis the UN Partition Plan in 1947, and over 700,000 indigenous Palestinians became refugees- who are still denied their inalienable human right to return home-because they are the wrong religion.  And this is at the root of much of the misery in the Middle East and fuels the ‘demon’ of Anti-Semitism.

Because of ignorance, misplaced guilt for the Jewish Holocaust and a fear of being called an Anti-Semite; Israel has been allowed to defy international law and deny equal human rights to the indigenous people.

Aided and abetted by USA and European economic, diplomatic and political support all have colluded to treat Palestinian citizens with institutionalized discrimination!

And the Goldstone Report didn’t tell us anything new!

In February 2008, PACBI reported that Israel has been “committing horrific war crimes in the occupied Gaza Strip, where its illegal and immoral policy of collective punishment—through a hermetic military siege and an almost complete blockage of fuel, electric power, and even food and medicine—is pushing 1.5 million Palestinian civilians to the brink of starvation. Without electricity, incubators are shutting down; hospitals are fast coming to a standstill; water is not being properly purified nor separated from raw sewage; whatever is left from the local economy is undergoing a meltdown; and the most vulnerable sectors of the population, the children, the elderly, and the acutely ill, are languishing under unspeakable hardships.” [5]

It has been reported that a few weeks before Rev. King bled to death on a patch of pavement in Memphis, he said:

“Peace for Israel means security, and we stand with all our might to protect its right to exist…I see Israel as one of the greatest outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy.”

That maybe just a Zionist urban legend, but as King died a mere ten months after Israel’s Military occupation of Palestine began, I imagine that with nearly 43 years of reflection, King would amend those words-if he actually spoke them-by citing the Hebrew prophet Amos who prayed:

“Let JUSTICE roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.”

I also imagine that King might also remind Bono of what John Lennon sang about women in the ‘70’s for today the Palestinians have become the ‘N’s’ of the world:

We insult her every day on TV
And wonder why she has no guts or confidence
When she’s young we kill her will to be free
While telling her not to be so smart we put her down for being so dumb.-John Lennon, “Woman is the “N” of the World”

King united people of all faiths and civil secular society in the battle for civil rights for African Americans based on respect for human dignity, and driven by ethical and moral standards, and so, I imagine he might tell US all:

If you have ears to hear; hear!

If you have eyes to see; see!

If you have a heart of flesh may it bleed for the least among us-all the “N’s” of the world- for only in solidarity do “have it in our power to begin the world again”-Tom Paine

I beseech US all to be a part of “the change you want to see in the world” [Gandhi] and may we all plunge into the righteous flowing stream of BDS, seeking justice and peace through NONVIOLENT actions until Israel behaves like a democracy should!

And may a righteous indignation over hypocrisy in high places fill US all with the desire for PEACE/Shalom/Salaam and might we all feel within this paraphrase from Luke 4:14:22:

May the Spirit of the Mystery we call the Lord be upon you.

May He/She/? anoint you to bring glad tidings to the poor.

May He/She/? use US all to proclaim LIBERTY to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind,

Until the oppressed will be freed in a spirit of sister and brotherhood,

And then, we may truly proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord,

Who created ALL equal and endowed all with the inalienable rights to a life of liberty, that they may seek happiness and live in harmony with ALL.

Vanunu’s Message to Hillary Clinton re: The Apartheid Wall

Learn More:

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

[1] http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3444320,00.html

[2] Apartheid Ancient, Past, and Present Systematic and Gross Human Rights Violations in Graeco-Roman Egypt, South Africa, and Israel/Palestine, By Anthony Löwstedt. Page 77.

[3] The Link, About That Word Apartheid, April-May 2007, Published by Americans for Middle East Understanding, Inc.

[4] http://www.ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/p-neff-veto.html

[5] http://www.pacbi.org/press_releases_more.php?id=655_0_4_0_C

Only in Solidarity do “we have it in our power to begin the world again.”-Tom Paine

Eileen Fleming,
Founder of WeAreWideAwake.org
A Feature Correspondent for Arabisto.com
Author of “Keep Hope Alive” and “Memoirs of a Nice Irish American ‘Girl’s’ Life in Occupied Territory” 
Producer “30 Minutes with Vanunu” and “13 Minutes with Vanunu”