Nice to be back home
After a couple weeks on the road, I’ve got a couple good things to report. First, the Finger Lakes Trail. My son and I spent four days backpacking on a 50-mile section of the FLT, taking the very long and scenic route between Cortland and Ithaca. The trail, which winds for close to 600 miles (875 miles, counting loops and branch trails) between Allegany State Park in Cattaraugus County and the Catskill Forest Preserve, is one of New York State’s underappreciated gems – certainly a rival to the Appalachian Trail and Vermont’s Long Trail in ambience and accessibility. Go to http://www.fingerlakestrail.org/ for information – and join the Finger Lakes Trail Conference, as I just did, to support this mostly volunteer project. Then get out on the trail; camp at the new leantos or bivouac in the many State Forests along the route; and find the sort of beauty you’ll never experience from the highway. (You can minimize your trip’s environmental impact by taking the bus to the trailhead. Ian and I found one nice loop: we took Greyhound/Trailways from Midtown Plaza to Cortland, caught a cab to the actual trail seven miles further south, and made our wandering way to Ithaca, where we caught the bus back to Rochester.)
Second, I can report that organic agriculture is more than alive and well – it’s growing and spreading. That was just one take-home message from the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s annual conference held last week in Amherst, MA. Just one piece of evidence, maybe the most significant, in fact: It seems that more and more young people are joining the movement, buying farms or leasing acreage, forming communities (including some that happily are anarcho-socialist, or the like), creating relationships and families, and otherwise carrying the banner forward in the Dark Age of Bush. I was also pleased that organic folks are working overtime to demote Big Energy and fossil fuels, and to push appropriate technology and renewables. (Several workshops and programs at the conference centered on Peak Oil, the concept that global petroleum production has already passed or will soon pass its high point, after which we’ll see prices going up and energy wars and lesser struggles breaking out. (Go to www.nofa.org for more information – and check out the archived transcripts of talks from previous conferences, like Vandana Shiva’s 2004 keynote.)
I’ll be posting more good news gleaned on vacation – but now that I’m back in the saddle, I’m also looking at some of the news I missed while blissfully “lost” in the woods. Tops on this list is the inadequacy of local response to the Lebanon-Gaza-Israel crisis – response from the mass and “alternative” media alike, as well as from the peace movement. (Note that my name for this crisis reflects the descending order of impact on noncombatants and the ascending order of moral and political responsibility for the carnage, with the Israeli government’s culpability head and shoulders above the competition. Current totals: More than 800 civilian deaths in Lebanon, more than 130 in the often-ignored Gaza theater of conflict, and more than 50 in Israel.)
For now, you’ll find below a relevant document from one of Israel’s most progressive human rights organizations, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. ICAHD, under admirable leaders like retired Israeli academic Jeff Halper, has long resisted the policy of bulldozing homes in occupied Palestine. (The group also supports Israeli military resisters and objectors, etc.) The document does two things: it reveals yet another aspect of the Israeli peace movement that is largely hidden from US media consumers, who are led to believe that Peace Now represents the true Israeli left position; and it points to how we might adopt a more radical analysis and use the most appropriate rhetoric as we confront the worst perpetrator, our own government.
ICAHD STATEMENT ON LEBANON/GAZA WARS 8/4/06
END THE WAR! END THE OCCUPATION!
END STATE TERROR! END AMERICAN EMPIRE!
ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, condemns all attacks on civilians, whether by Israel, the Palestinians or Hezbollah. We recognize Israel’s ever-repressive Occupation as the main source of conflict and instability in our region. Had Israel taken the many opportunities it had to secure a just peace, the peoples of the region would never have reached this point of despair and futile violence. Israel believes it can achieve “quiet” and normalcy through military power while retaining its Occupation, encouraged and protected by the US. This is the true convergence: Israel’s Occupation in return for an active Israeli role in expanding American Empire.
Israel’s disproportionate attacks on both Gaza and Lebanon on the pretext of freeing Israeli soldiers is intended to destroy any resistance to the imposition of the apartheid regime represented by Olmert’s “convergence plan.” Indeed, the democratically-elected government of Hamas which had been moving steadily towards a negotiated two-state settlement constitutes the greatest threat to the perpetuation of Israel’s Occupation, as witnessed by Israel’s delegitimization of that government and its systematic campaign to liquidate Hamas leaders. Israel’s illegal and immoral use of collective punishment against the civilian population of Gaza in which 3000 houses have been demolished in recent years and its months-long campaign of starving the local population into submission continues must be condemned. ICAHD will work with the international courts to bring the military and political perpetrators of these crimes against humanity to justice.
Hezbollah, whose very existence comes by way of resistance to repeated Israeli invasions, illustrates how counter-productive are the attempts of Israel and the US to impose by force a “new order” on the Middle East whose only rationale is to serve Israeli Occupation and American Empire. Without equating the two politically or in terms of power, both Israel and Hezbollah must refrain from attacks on civilian populations.
Israel, of course, could not have reached this point without American and European complicity. Indeed, American refusal to countenance a ceasefire only affirms Israel’s role as its military surrogate in the Middle East. Their shared aim is a Pax Americana over the region for which Israel will be allowed to keep its settlements.
The war must end immediately, all attacks on civilians must cease immediately and permanently and UN resolutions must be implemented. The international community, especially a complicit and passive Europe, must intervene. America must cease to exacerbate regional conflicts for its own ends. Israel, which holds some 9000 Palestinian and Arab political prisoners, must negotiate a meaningful exchange in return for its captured soldiers. Above all, Israel must realize that there is no military solution to the conflict in our region. Relinquishing its Occupation in favor of genuine negotiations with the Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese is the only guarantee of Israel’s security.
END THE WAR! END THE OCCUPATION! END ISRAELI STATE TERROR! END ATTACKS ON CIVILIANS! END AMERICAN EMPIRE!
Posted by jackbradiganspula
at 10:26 EDT
Updated: Monday, 21 August 2006 10:49 EDT