Students for Justice in Palestine, Dina Babbitt, Jim Cramer Should Retire

March 3, 2009

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There are two causes I’d like to quickly mention. Many may quite possibly be supportive of one and not the other, yet I feel both are positive things that could use any involvement they can attract. If you feel strongly enough about either enough to write a letter or an e-mail, make a phone call or do any work in its support please do so regardless of how you feel on the other issues discussed here.

First of all, there’s what Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts has done. That college’s trustees have agreed to divest from six groups over involvement with Israel’s occupation of Palestine and the violation of many human rights. This college took these steps after intensive work done by the group Students for Justice in Palestine. The Israel-Palestine issue has been at another volatile swelling point in recent months, and it will continue to recur in that way until a peaceful and just resolution is brought about.

I’ve mentioned the struggle for justice in the middle east between Israel and Palestine in passing before on this site. My mention of it here is very brief and I understand that if you don’t see the situation as being one of actual apartheid and you don’t feel that ours and many other governments have long been very partisan towards Israel in this struggle rather than being fair and open to both sides then you will no doubt find such a cause ludicrous. First and foremost, I want to reiterate that efforts like this are not anti-Semitic, prejudiced or mean-spirited. Quite often groups and individuals get angry when terms like “divestment” and “apartheid” are mentioned in regards to the Israel-Palestine situation. It is not defamation — there are Jews, Christians, Muslims and people of no faith at all living in both Israel and Palestine. To admit that Palestine is being occupied by the Israeli government and that many Palestinian people are displaced and barred from their land and from education, health and care facilities does not take aim at any race or religion. I will also say that those that support divestment and peace yet refuse to condemn tactics like suicide bombing on the behalf of Palestinian terrorists are equally in the wrong. People must recognize that wrong has been done on both sides for a long time, and justice will bring peace but only when honesty, integrity and compromise work together to treat all people with dignity. The group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is pressuring many other schools to support the cause of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as a way of ushering in non-violent pressure on governments that violate international law and human rights. Non-violent justice is the only way all people in such situations can truly and fully be saved.

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The other cause I’m mentioning is Dina Babbitt’s art. Dina Babbitt is an artist and a holocaust survivor. She was caught by Nazi’s doing murals of things like “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” for children in a concentration camp. She feared they would kill her for such a thing but they instead transferred her to Auschwitz and kept her as an asset. Nazi’s had felt photographs of Jews and ethnic groups didn’t capture their “ugliness” and physical qualities that show their “inferiority.” Goebbels and the like felt full color painted pictures would better display such things. Ms. Babbitt painted detailed and realistic portraits of those prisoners set before her that portrayed them as nobly and humanly as art could allow—of course for a Nazi racist like Goebbels their prejudices saw in the pictures what they saw in the people themselves so they were satisfied with her work. Mrs. Babbitt knew that as long as she was working on a portrait of someone, they would be kept alive. The longer she could prolong the process the more likely they would be alive when the camp was liberated. Auschwitz was eventually liberated and Mrs. Babbitt was freed. She went on to work in art and animation for years to come.

In recent years she has been trying to get the Auschwitz paintings back. They are on display at the Auschwitz Museum and she has lobbied to have them returned to her for years—after all she painted them and never authorized their sell anywhere. She is more than happy to let the museum display high quality copies of her work, but she wants the originals to herself before she dies. Ms. Babbitt is aging and in poor health now. Comic artists, animators and civil liberty spokespersons have all written and asked the Museum to return what is rightfully hers to her. Politicians, governments and large groups of lawyers have all put work into this effort.

Granted, personal letters aren’t guaranteed to change any minds, but if you feel strongly about this and the issues that are at stake as well as the general dignity deserving of a woman like Mrs. Babbitt, who has went through so much, please send a letter or an email to the museum.

Here’s the address: muzeum@auschwitz.org.pl

cramer

Last of all, now that I’ve mentioned two causes here’s just a general angsty complaint. Is it just me or is Wall Street and the stock market in general just incredibly fickle and apt to plummet or spike over the most random of events? It seems that in its modern form it’s just an illogical machine, but one that is unfortunately ingrained in our national economic well being. Jim Kramer, host of Mad Money on MSNBC and frequent “expert guest” on new shows abounding should perhaps just retire. His blood pressure must be through the roof and from what I gather he never gives any truly productive advice, he just adds to the general sense of unease when’s he handed a microphone. This morning on the Today show he bemoaned Obama as so drastically “radical” for such “bad times” saying that the real peoples priorities are on Wall street and Obama’s administration should do everything to strengthen it and inspire investors. Well, fickle investors who want to regain wealth would love tax cuts to huge corporations and anything else that promotes big business—outsourcing, oil money, and trickle down economics. Of course, 50 percent of people have stocks. So making such concessions in the hopes of spiking wall street would help those 50 percent regain some of their wealth for the time being. The other 50 percent of folks would be left in the cold like always. As I’ve said before, it’s time to work things in new ways and it’s time to give support to progressive plans. If these plans fail, it’ll likely be due to the constant attacks, obstruction and intentionally created unease that the GOP is doing now. Basically they’re distancing themselves from the plan, loudly speaking their opposition and trying to block it, hoping it will fail so that they can regain popularity. Rather than reverting, scaling back and narrowing his focus so that only Wall Street is focused on, Obama would merely cause temporary success for half of the population and put off real change and success for another time. If policies that can fix the ailments of modern US society can be implemented now to help all people in much better and longer lasting ways, even if it will take some time and some people will temporarily do worse than they traditionally have done (in easy speak, if rich people have to be closer to middle class for a few years so that we can create a strong and thriving middle class, lift up the lower class, and eventually build that same upper class up again, so be it).

That’s it, I’m done for now. Next up a slew of non urgent articles, starting with the next “Under-rated and Over-looked Album Review #4”

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