Saudi plan: A chance to end the killing

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, known in Israel as the “Butcher of Lebanon,” has his own plan to bring “peace” to the West Bank and Gaza: – physically annihilate Palestinian resistance – and has sent Israeli forces, backed by tanks, artillery and helicopter gunships into Palestinian refugee camps, resulting in death and injury to hundreds of Palestinians.

The rising tide of casualties is testimony to the fact that Sharon’s strategy has backfired, that it has strengthened, rather than weakened, Palestinian resolve resulting in a situation where, according to the New York Times, Israeli casualties are nearing levels suffered during the invasion of Lebanon during the 1980s.

Only a negotiated peace, one that establishes an independent Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel, can put a stop to this downward spiral of revenge.

Saudi Arabia has offered a peace plan which calls for Israel to withdraw to its pre-1967 in exchange for re-establishing diplomatic relations with the Arab states. There is nothing fundamentally new in the Saudi plan whose essential elements are embodied in U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 and are recognized throughout the world as the only basis for genuine peace.

But Sharon rigidly rejects withdrawal from the occupied Arab lands, despite the fact that President Bush has called on both parties to “build on the vision for peace recently advanced by Crown Prince Abdullah.”

Well and good. But we don’t need a “vision” of peace in some distant future. People are dying. We need peace now. The Saudi plan is an opportunity that must not be missed.

This has created a situation that requires the United Sates, Israel’s only supporter in the international community, to exert pressure on Sharon to accept the Saudi plan.

Contact the White House and your Senators and Representative today. Tell them to act now for a Israeli-Palestinian peace.

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Honor International Women’s Day

The first observance of International Women’s Day was March 8, 1911. Then, in the years since, and today, women were – and are – engaged in a struggle for equality: dignity on the job, equal pay, an end to sex and race discrimination, the right to vote and a living standard worthy of a human being. The battle has raged “fierce and long,” with agonizing setbacks and glorious victories.

But never has the battle been as fierce as today, with the administration of Bush the Appointed hell bent on locking women into a 21st Century version of “kinder, kuche and kirche” (children, kitchen and church) with such things as a “welfare reform” proposal that will force women to continue abusive family relationships, an executive order abolishing the ergonomic standard dealing with muscular-skeletal disorders, affecting millions of workers, a majority of whom are women, the constant undermining of women’s health care, including reproductive rights and the right to choose an abortion.

But perhaps the most offensive attack on women today is Bush’s drive for a never-ending war, something that threatens the very life on this planet.

Bush can be forced to retreat. Witness the fact he had to retreat on his proposal to close the Labor Department’s Women’s Bureau in the face of the combined outrage of the women’s movement, a movement that now includes nearly six million trade unionists.

Women, along with labor; the African-American, Mexican-American and other communities of color; students; environmentalists and other democratic forces can force Bush to retreat by registering to vote for candidates that support the AFL-CIO’s Agenda for America this election year.

Such a movement can not be built as long as the Bushes and bosses of this world can divide us on the basis of sex, race or any other form of discrimination. That is the lesson of today’s celebration of International Women’s Day

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