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The Reilly Factor: Emily Reilly, shown here with fellow City Councilmember Ed Porter, says she will definitely run for re-election in November.


Who's Laughing Now?

City Councilmember Emily Reilly reports that she is definitely planning to run for council again this November, which is good news to Nüz's mind since Reilly was one of five ballsy councilmembers, along with Mayor Scott Kennedy, Tim Fitzmaurice, Mike Rotkin and Ed Porter, to support a resolution for independent investigations into the prison scandals in Iraq and elsewhere, full disclosure of all relevant information and the impeachment of Donald Rumsfeld. The resolution, which Councilmember Mark Primack voted against, and for which Cynthia Mathews was absent, has since sparked national interest, with Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) asking his colleagues to co-sponsor HR 629--the Articles of Impeachment for Rumsfeld.

Right to Refusenik

Pretty tough week for the Bush Administration. First, the Sept. 11 Commission debunked Bush's claims of an Osama-Saddam connection, only to witness Bush and Cheney contradict the commish's findings, while handily smearing The New York Times, whose credibility, ironically enough, was on shaky ground for having eagerly swallowed Dubya and Dick's WMD lies this time last year. Then there was the poll that the Coalition Provisional Authority commissioned, then tried to suppress, that showed that 92 percent of Iraqis see the coalition forces as occupiers. Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee is investigating whether Justice Department memos that suggested the Geneva Conventions might not apply to America's "war on terror" led to torture in Iraq, even as John Ashcroft told Congress he won't release a 2002 policy memo on the degree of pain and suffering legally permitted during enemy interrogations.

None of these revelations, however, have come as any great surprise to Israeli journalist, broadcaster and NPR commentator on Middle East issues Peretz Kidron, who'll be in Santa Cruz next week to talk about selective military refusal in Israel, a.k.a. the Refusenik movement.

"Occupation is an act of violence against the population, because an armed body imposing their will among civilians provokes violence," says Kidron, who became a Refusenik after witnessing an Israeli bulldozer uproot a mature grove of almond trees, while he was on reserve duty in occupied Sinai in the '70s.

"I was shocked," he tells Nüz. "I was still with the mystique of Israel 'making the desert bloom' and here we were reducing a flourishing garden to a desert." Kidron says he was further disabused of his illusions when he heard reports on the radio that Bedouin nomads had been trying to take over land by planting almond saplings.

"This coupling of barbarism with a blatant lie was too much for me," said Kidron, who knows enough about trees to tell a sapling from a mature tree. Noting that in the late '60s and early '70s, "Israelis stuck out their chests and said, 'We'll show the world what enlightened occupation is,'" Kidron observes that it didn't take long for the situation to devolve into the "usual illusions, attempts to divide and conquer and the branding of resistance as terrorists. Indeed, if George Washington was alive today, he'd be in danger of being deported to Guantanamo Bay."

Describing as "much more sinister" Israel's current activities, including the building of a security fence, which he says will reduce Palestinians to "cattle penned inside an enclosure," Kidron adds that torture is an inevitable part of any occupation.

"The situation of occupation has an inner rationale that never deviates and torture is an inevitable part of it, because you have resistance from the locals and yet you need informants, but you won't get local collaborators--unless you torture them."

Admitting that "it's an uphill battle to tell the truth about what's really going on in Israel, and there's also the fact that Palestinian dissidents have been attacking unarmed Israelis--attacks that seem to bear out Israel's official story and make a large percentage of Israelis hostile to Palestinians," Kidron warns that punishing the majority for the acts of a small percentage is always self-defeating.

"One way or another there will be revenge, and conflict continues. Conquest does not create peace. Co-existence does."

By Kidron's estimate, there have been 4,000 acts of refusal by Israeli soldiers since the 1970s, with about 1,000 resulting in prison time.

"'Don't do unto others that which is hateful to you' is an old Israeli rule of thumb. Otherwise, you'll get a boomerang. It's in our interests to have content neighbors."

Kidron will read from his book Refusenik! on Monday, June 28, at 7:30pm at the Capitola Book Cafe, 1475 41st Ave. He'll also appear on Tuesday, June 29, at 8am at the United Methodist Church, 250 California St.

Contact Sports

"We recently got a fundraising letter from Nancy Pelosi that in part said that politics is a contact sport. I had thought she was using metaphor to describe the political climate in Washington. However, she apparently means everywhere, including at my tree, for I had to put up the sixth sign for Kerry this morning. I wonder if the message of contact sport doesn't also mean a greater response to those who do not love America enough to understand the First Amendment."

So wrote TBill in the Forest, as he updated Nüz on his ongoing battles to keep his signs for John Kerry up and in place on his tree.

As it happens, TBill reports that with the sign-count continuing, "The cam idea is gathering widespread support, with one helpful friend sending details of a spycam/security camera, wireless, daytime/nighttime, for only $149. I'm hoping to find something for a little less, but it looked like a really hot camera. Snicker."

On a more serious note, TBill reports that he has a cliff next to the tree that people crash into all the time "and a camera to capture those magic moments has been in our minds for a while." Good idea, given that TBill emailed us one more time last week with another piece of info about the sign destroyers:

"They must read the Metro. I had to put up sign seven today."

Nüz just loves juicy tips: Drop a line to 115 Cooper St, Santa Cruz, 95060, email us at , or call our hotline at 457.9000, ext 214.

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From the June 23-30, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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