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Thursday, April 26, 2012

[haw-info] HAW Notes 4/26/12: follow-up on yesterday's message: (a) fund appeal and (b) letter from one of those targeted by David Horowitz's New York Times ad

To members and friends of Historians Against the War,

1.  Many thanks to those who have already responded to the appeal for funds for HAW that we sent out yesterday evening.  The appeal, with a reminder of how to donate, is posted at
http://blog.historiansagainstwar.org/2012/04/haw-info-appeal-for-funds.html.  We hope to hear from more people.

2.  In the same message, we called attention to an inflammatory advertisement on the op-ed page of Tuesday's
New York Times denouncing 14 academics by name, calling for them to be "condemned and shamed" for having expressed support for sanctions against Israel.  (The ad can now be found on-line at
http://zatarandspinach.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/20120424113007773-1.pdf.)  One of those targeted, William Thomson of the University of Michigan (whose name is misspelled in the ad), has written a letter which is included at the end of this message.


Jim O'Brien and Marc Becker
Co-chairs of Historians Against the War

Letter from William Thomson

Yesterday, April, 24, 2012 - a date which will live in memory - 13 academic colleagues and I were suddenly and deliberately attacked by the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

Under a photograph of a 1930's era Nazi Brown shirt, my colleagues and I were identified by name and academic affiliation, inferentially connected to the tragic murder of a French rabbi and three children, and listed with others on the
horowitzfreedomcenter.org weebsite as "BDS supporters of hate and anti-Semitism."

I presume my inclusion in this list was the result of my efforts at the University of Michigan to promote the formation of a University Committee to investigate possible divestment.  Precisely, what we are requesting is:

Whereas, the undersigned believe that any Univesity investments in entities contributing to human rights violations by either Israelis or Palestinians is inappropriate.

Resolved, the undersigned call for the formation by the University of Michigan of an advisory committee consisting of members of the University Senate, students, administration and alumni to determine if any University investments are questionable and in need of appropriate corrective actions.

Although our efforts at Michigan have been consistently mis-characterized by the local opposition as anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic, please note carefully that we are calling for divestment with regard to both Israeli and Palestinian human rights violations.  This call has been supported by a wide range of Palestinian and American Jewish groups, as well as by three Nobel Prize laureates and numerous Nobel nominees.

It is not pleasant being characterized as anti-Semitic, even by ill-informed and misguided individuals.  However, those of us who toil in this arena for any length of time are quite familiar with the charge.  Over time I have come to associate it with an abvsence of reasoned argument by our adversaries.

Similarly this advertisement associates us with the initiation of a new Holocaust.  In my mind such a charge infinitely reduces the recognition and memory of the millions who suffered unimaginable pain and suffering at the hands of Adolf Hitler and his associates.  To cast such charges in such an irresponsible manner is an egregious violation of the memory of a terrible historical reality.

Nevertheless, groups and individuals will resort to unfounded character assassination and ad hominem attacks when reasoned discussion is beyond their abilities.  It comes with the territory, and I have learned to live with it. Wounds are inevitable in the full exercise of our First Amendment freedoms.

My primary argument in this situation is with the New York Times. Why would the supposed Newspaper of Record publish such an indefensible screed, and why it would put it on its editorial page without clearly labeling it as an advertisement?

The ad lists our names and our academic affiliations.  It calls for us to be "publicly shamed and condemned for the crimes [our] hatred incites".  It requests readers to "contact the president of your local university and ask them to publicly condemn their faculty's participation in the Boycott of Hate".

I am too weathered a campaigner to be much affected by these requests.  In fact, there is a part of me that recognizes that such unjustified attacks mean that we are nearing the critical mass that causes real fear in the hearts of our adversaries.

Now being seven years post-retirement, I am thankfully beyond any conceivable retaliation.  My reputation, for better or worse, is probably fixed.  However, others on this list may not be in my position, and at the very least, such an advertisement may have a "chilling effect" on the younger, more creative, more energetic individuals on all sides of this issue, individuals that hold the keys to its resolution.

Unfortunately, I have directly witnessed negative consequences toward vulnerable colleagues expressing views on this topic.  The concern is real.  So why is the New York Times aiding and abetting this environment of fear?

Please consider expressing any concerns you may have to the New York Times Public Editor

(Ombudsperson), Art Brisbane, at public@nytimes.com, or (212)556-7652.

Peace, with Justice,

Bill Thomson

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

[haw-info] an appeal for funds

To members and friends of Historians Against the War,

HAW rarely sends out fund appeals, and this is the first one in over three years.  Now our bank balance is near zero, which puts even our modest expenses into question.  We are an entirely volunteer-run organization, and all donations support our activities such as printing flyers and pamphlets, staffing tables at conferences, and meeting to plan future activities.

In an era when the US government arrogates to itself the right to wage war at any time and in any place, whether through drones in the air or troops on the ground, and the right to subject even its own citizens to indefinite detention, it is important to keep oppositional voices alive. 

Please consider financially supporting HAW.  Donations of any size (from $25 or$100 or anything above or below those figures, would be greatly appreciated.  The easiest way to donate is online, at http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/donations.html.  Alternatively, checks made out to Historians Against the War can be mailed to the treasurer, Van Gosse, 392 Broadway #4F, New York, NY 10013.  In the interest of truth-in-soliciting, donations to HAW are not tax-deductible.

Together, working as part of a broad antiwar movement, we can bring these wars to an end.

Jim O'Brien and Marc Becker
Co-chairs of Historians Against the War

P.S.  One of the issues that has long concerned HAW is the smearing of dissenting academics.  Yesterday, April 24, the New York Times made available more than one-fourth of its op-ed page for an ad by the "David Horowitz Freedom Center."  Invoking the Holocaust, the ad denounced by name 14 professors (none of them prominent public figures) for having expressed support for sanctions against Israel.  Those named, the ad said, "should be publicly shamed and condemned for the crimes their hatred incites."  However one feels about proposals for sanctions against Israel, the fact that the Times would accept such an ad, and give it such prominence, bespeaks a dangerous atmosphere in which dissent from official US policy is subject to semi-hysterical denunciation.  (For those wanting to write to the Times, the address for the paper's public editor is public@nytimes.com.)

Monday, April 23, 2012

[haw-info] Stand With Rep.Barbara Lee on Ending the War in Afghanistan

In 2001, Congresswoman Barbara Lee was the only member of either chamber to vote against the use of force in Afghanistan. Since then she has been a consistent voice of opposition. However, to be effective she needs our help. Without strong and unrelenting pressure from constituents, too many Congressional Representatives are still remaining mute despite widespread awareness that the war in Afghanistan is a futile and costly failure.
The vast majority of Americans are now opposed to the Afghanistan War. However over this past weekend, the US and Afghanistan have initialed a new "strategic partnership" agreement that will leave US troops in Afghanistan until 2024.
In an election year grassroots pressure in Congressional districts can make a huge difference.
One simple step:
1/ Call and ask your Representative to sign on as co-sponsor of HR 780 (The Responsible End to the War in Afghanistan Act) which would end combat now and limit the use of funds for Afghanistan to the safe and orderly withdrawal of all US troops." Thanks to folks in the antiwar movement, this bill has 70 co-sponsors.To make an impact, it needs many more.See the current list of co-sponsors at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d112:6:./temp/~bdiAbN:@@@P
Call the Congressional switchboard at toll-free number 877-429-0678.
If you have time, two other useful steps:
2/ Please forward this message family, friends and folks in your peace network and ask them to make this call now !
3/ When you call a Congressional office, ask to speak to someone who will get back to you about the Congressional Reps position. Are they willing to co-sponsor HR 780? If not, why not? Follow up until someone in that office gives you a clear explanation of what they plan to do about a never ending war in Afghanistan.
Why HR 780? United for Peace and Justice supports a range of Congressional initiatives designed to move the war in Afghanistan to a more rapid conclusion. Yet, as illustrated by the "strategic partnership" agreement initialed on Sunday, Administration policy is slippery and purposefully ambiguous. The importance of HR 780 is that it is clear and simple: stop US combat activities now and bring all the troops and contractors home.
Please let us know the response you receive, so we can make comments available to everyone:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

[haw-info] HAW Notes 4/19/12: Links to recent articles of interest

Links to Recent Articles of Interest

"Report on Iran's Nuclear Fatwa Distorts Its History"
By Gareth Porter, AntiWar.com, posted April 18

"A Black Indian March for Peace, 1861-1862"
By William Loren Katz, Portside.org, posted April 16

"Why Washington's Iran Policy Could Lead to Global Disaster: What History Should Teach Us about Blockading Iran"

By Juan Cole, TomDispatch.com, posted April 12
The author teaches history at the University of Michigan.

"The Afghan Syndrome: Vietnam Has Left Town, Say Hello to the New Syndrome on the Block"
By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com, posted April 10

"U.S. Military Atrocities Abroad"
By Ambeth R. Ocampo, Philippine Daily Inquirer, posted April 10
Relates the U.S.-Philippine War to Vietnam and Afghanistan

"Heard the One about the Peace Activist on the Titanic?"
By David Swanson, War Is a Crime.org, posted April 9

"Left Behind: What We Lost in Iraq and Washington, 2009-2012"
By Peter Van Buren, TomDispatch.com, posted April 8

"Waist Deep in Big Muddy, Again?"
By Mark Solomon, Portside.org, posted April 7

"Thinking the Unthinkable on Iran"
By Jonathan Schell, The Nation, posted April 6

"Our Men in Iran?"
By Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker blog, posted April 6

Thanks to Jim Swarts, Rosalyn Baxandall, and Sam Lowe for suggesting articles included in the above list.  Suggestions can be sent to jimobrien48@gmail.com.

Monday, April 16, 2012

[haw-info] HAW Notes 4/16/12: OAH convention; thank-yous

For those attending the Organization of American Historians convention in Milwaukee later this week (Thurs,.-Sun. April 19-22), here are three sessions that may be of interest to many members and friends of HAW:

--- "Historical Perspectives on the Democratic Revolutions in the Middle East," featuring Rashid Khalidi, Juan Cole, Melani McAllister, and Michael Sherry, 10:30 Friday morning April 20.

--- "David Montgomery - Labor Historian, Activist, Teacher, Mentor," OAH plenary session 3:00 Friday afternoon April 20 (David was one of the founders of Historians Against the War in 2003 and a Steering Committee member for several years)

--- "The Context and Practice of the 'Occupy' Movement," 10:30 Sunday morning April 22 (this one isn't in the on-line convention program but will take place in Room 203-C, FAC)

Speaking of the OAH, we would like to thank Alice Kessler-Harris, current president of the OAH and a professor at Columbia University, for taking time to secure a room at Columbia for a meeting of the HAW Steering Committee this summer.

And speaking of people who have been helpful to HAW, the following Web address has information on the international "How Class Works" conference at Stony Brook University on June 6-9: 
http://www.stonybrook.edu/workingclass/conference/2012.  The conference organizer, Mike Zweig, who teaches at Stony Brook and is a founder and leader of U.S. Labor Against the War, has arranged meeting spaces for several HAW in recent years, for which we are grateful.

Jim O'Brien
Co-chair, Historians Against the War

Thursday, April 05, 2012

[haw-info] HAW Notes 4/5/12: Links to recent articles of interest

Links to Recent Articles of Interest

"Time-Bomb Diplomacy"
By Justin Logan, The American Conservative, posted April 4

"Israel's Experts Mum on Iran to Support Bibi's Bluff"
By Gareth Porter, antiwar.com, posted April 3

"The Drone Boom"
By Vijay Prashad, CounterPunch.org, posted April 2
The author teaches history and international studies at Trinity College

"The Race for What's Left" (essay-review of Michael Klare's book of the same name)
By Lawrence S. Wittner, CounterPunch.org, posted April 2
The author is a professor of history emeritus at SUNY Albany

"The Phases of War"
By Phyllis Bennis, ZNet, posted April 1

"Empires Then and Now"
By Paul Craig Roberts, OpEd News, posted March 27

"Totalitarian Systems Always Begin by Rewriting the Law"
By Chris Hedges, TruthDig.org, posted March 26

"Speaking Truth to Power"
By William Astore, NationofChange.org, posted March 22

"Top Ten Lessons of the Iraq War"
By Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy, posted March 20

"How Joseph Stalin Invented 'American Exceptionalism'"
By Terrence M. McCoy, The Atlantic, posted March 15

Suggestions for these lists can be sent to jimobrien48@gmail.com.  Thanks to Rosalyn Baxandall, Mim Jackson, and Sam Lowe for suggesting articles that are included in the above list.