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Hi Sisters and Brothers,
Please look at the petition below, opposing the US sending weapons to Saudi Arabia and Israel. If you agree with it, return the petition to BrennerL21@aol.com, with your name and email address in the spaces provided.
Each week’s collection of names will be sent to the majority and minority leaders of Congress, etc. The petition is the first step in building a coalition against weapons to all theocratic states. You will be informed as it develops a democratic structure.
Domestic separation of church and state is profoundly important to many educated American believers and skeptics. But there is no organization primarily devoted to demanding that the US, constitutionally secular at home, stop arming anti-egalitarian religious states. This has been disastrous in the Middle East and will get worse if it continues.
Naturally the coalition would be part of the broader anti-war movement, opposed to US involvement with anti-egalitarian regimes, atheist or religious, everywhere. But given the centrality of arming religious states to Washington’s imperial strategy since 1945, the coalition would be mandated to provide factual material, historical and contemporary, via the internet and campus teach-ins, on an issue already of growing concern not only to the broad peace camp but to even vaster religious and secularist publics.
Bush’s renewed arming of Saudi Arabia and Israel forces the issue. But we can turn his scheme against him and the Democrats, equally guilty of such outrages. The old saying is “a mountain only stands out because of the flatness of the surrounding ground.” They have gotten away with their crimes because no movement focused on confronting our educated with the complete range of their international religious demagoguery. They built European Christian Democratic parties against Stalinism, patronized the creation of an Orthodox Jewish state, organized an Islamic front on the Soviet Union’s borders, culminating with the arming of such terrorists against the pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan.
If we resolutely challenge Bush now, we can generate enough discussion of the potentially disastrous consequences of the deal that, even if we can’t stop Congress from funding it, we can continue, confident that we will convince enough people in reasonable time. We can indeed build a broad movement for a secular US in a secular world, and stop Washington from arming Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other such fanatic regimes.
PETITION AGAINST WEAPONS TO SAUDI ARABIA AND ISRAEL
We the people of America and the world call on the Congress of the United States to oppose President George Bush’s scheme to sell $20 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia and five other Persian Gulf states, and increase US military grants to Israel by 25%, to $30.4 billion over 10 years.
From the beginning of the cold war, Washington’s strategy, arming religious fanatics against “godless” Communists and anti-imperialist nationalists, has been catastrophic for the people of the Middle East. Bush’s latest maneuver only guarantees more disasters for them and for Americans.
In 1979, Democrat Jimmy Carter secretly armed Afghan Sunni fundamentalists against the Soviet-imposed regime in Kabul. The terrorists won under Republican Ronald Reagan, allied with Saudi Arabia. But Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991, and our President’s father sent troops to Saudi Arabia to protect the regime. Osama bin Laden, a leader of Reagan’s Saudi allies in Afghanistan, realized that the Saudi dynasty was an American dependent. He broke with them and their “Crusader” backers and ultimately blew up the WTC, murdering thousands. “Blowback” is CIA slang for negative consequences of its plots, and 9/11 was the unforeseen but inevitable result of US use of religious fanatics in its imperial machinations.
Post-9/11, Saudi Arabia is immensely unpopular here. Fifteen of the nineteen plane hijackers were Saudi citizens. Informed Americans see them as inevitable end-products of the regime’s fundamentalist indoctrination.
Saudi women must wear veils in public. They can’t drive cars. They need their father or husband’s approval to leave the country. Christian churches are forbidden. There is blatant discrimination against Shia Muslims.
Israel backs US arms sales to Saudi Arabia as an armed Sunni buffer against Shia Iran’s nuclear threat against the Zionist state. But when Israeli crimes are denounced, Zionists typically respond by asking, “Why aren’t people also crying out against Saudi Arabia’s crimes?” Israel shouldn’t be singled out. Americans must oppose arms going to all governments violating human rights.
Moshe Katsav just resigned as Israel’s President. His own Attorney General announced sufficient evidence to indict him for raping his office manager. He pled guilty to committing an indecent act under coercion. This is usually punished by up to 10 years imprisonment but he got a one-year suspended sentence.
Katsev was President of an Orthodox Jewish state. Every morning an adult Orthodox male thanks God for “making me a man, not a woman.” Women thank him for “making me what I am.” They are segregated in Orthodox synagogues. Wives can’t divorce their husbands in the country’s religious courts and there is no civil divorce. If their husbands won’t divorce them, they can’t remarry. There are thousands of women in this situation.
“Reform Judaism” is America’s largest Jewish sect. “Conservative Judaism” its second largest. Reform and Conservative Israeli rabbis can’t perform legal marriages or grant divorces. Only Orthodox rabbis can. As there is no civil marriage, even an Israeli supreme court judge had to go to Cyprus to marry a Conservative woman.
Theoretically, Israeli male Jews must serve in the military. Some Orthodox become regular soldiers. But others serve in Orthodox-only units, shielded against contact with Jewish women soldiers who might be menstruating. Another 11% of 18 year olds are exempt from the military so they can study theology, while atheist, Conservative, Reform, and female soldiers fight for a state rooted in their legal inequality.
Orthodox superiority over rival Judaic sects is superimposed on massive colonial inequality for native Palestinian Muslims, Christians, Druze, and atheists. In 1948, Israel drove hundreds of thousands from their homes. According to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin‘s memoir, published after his 1995 assassination by a Zionist:
“‘Driving out’ is a term with a harsh ring. Psychologically, this was one of the most difficult actions we undertook. The population of Lod did not leave willingly. There was no way of avoiding the use of force and warning shots in order to make the inhabitants march the ten to fifteen miles to the point where they met up with the legion. The inhabitants of Rami watched and learned the lesson. Their leaders agreed to evacuate voluntarily, on condition that the evacuation was carried out by vehicles.”
Religious inequality went further after Israel’s 1967 victory. All “Israeli” settlements in the West Bank are Jews-only, even though 1.4 million of Israel’s 7.1 million citizens are Palestinian. Some of these, male members of the Druze sect, Muslim Bedouins, and some Christians, fight in Zionism’s wars. Yet none can live in the settlements. And some Jews-only settlements are Orthodox-only.
Bush recently signed an “Advance Democracy Act,” requiring the State Department to develop strategies helping tyrannies turn into democracies. But the Saudi deal means the end of pressure on the regime. And neither Bush nor the Congressional Democrats will apply the law to Israel, with its legal ethnic, religious, and sexual inequalities.
Every July 4th, Americans, religious or unbelievers, remember Thomas Jefferson, a deist who separated church and state in his new republic. Calling for an immediate end to arming Saudi Arabia and Israel, we act in the spirit of his last words about the Declaration of Independence, written 10 days before his death, on July 4th, 1826:
“May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all), the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man.
The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God.”
Lenni Brenner is the author of Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir, Jews in America Today, and The Lesser Evil.