by Mark Ostapiak / September 2006 issue of Socialist Action Newspaper
With the U.S. war machine and its heavily armed client regime in Israel center stage in the political arena, Jeff Mackler, Socialist Action write-in candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in California, addressed a crowd of 5000 at the Aug. 12 antiwar rally in San Francisco’s Civic Center.
Mackler’s political platform resonated with the crowd (a significant number of whom were Arab and Muslim), especially his opposition to the Israeli collective punishment on Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
Mackler’s presentation was a vivid contrast to the posturing of his main political opponent, multimillionaire Democrat Dianne Feinstein, who led a small rally in San Francisco on July 23 expressing solidarity with Israel in its offensive against Lebanon and its occupation of Gaza.
Speaking at the pro-Israel rally, Feinstein said, “Let there be no doubt Israel was subjected to unprovoked, unjustified attacks from terrorists on both the northern and southern borders,” referring to Hezbollah and Hamas, respectively.
“Who started the present wars in the Middle East?” asked Mackler at the Aug. 12 rally. “We are told that it was a handful of Palestinians who captured one or two Israeli soldiers or the Lebanese so-called terrorists who fired some primitive rockets into Israel.
“But we are not told that Israel holds 10,000 Palestinian political prisoners in its jails and torture chambers. We are not told that so-called democratic Israel refuses to recognize the Hamas election victory, affirmed by virtually every nation on earth.
“We are not told that racist Israel daily seeks to starve to death an entire people in the Gaza strip, that it cuts off its sole supply of water, and that the West Bank is walled off like the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto who were then slaughtered by Hitler’s butchers.
“Indeed, we are not told that Israel is a Zionist, racist, colonial settler state created by force and violence out of the original Palestine that had been home to its peoples for 2000 years.
Perhaps if the American people were told just a few of these facts they could understand why virtually all the peoples of the Middle East stood in solidarity with the actions of the Hezbollah fighters who chose to not step aside while their Palestinian brothers and sisters were subjected to the full wrath of the Israeli terror operation.
“The only secure future of the Jewish people will be in the creation of a democratic and secular Palestine, where Arabs and Jews can live together as equals. And this new society can only be based on the unconditional right of return of all Palestinians who were dispossessed of their land, homes, farms, and nation.
“At the same time, socialists fight to win the masses of the region to the struggle for socialist revolution, indeed, to the goal of a socialist federation of the entire Middle East.”
Campaign activists hit the streets
Many in the crowd during Mackler’s Aug. 12 speech were eager to snap up the Socialist Action campaign literature. Throughout the day, campaigners spoke with hundreds of people about the Mackler campaign and signed up 17 volunteers—while registering voters to the Socialist Action Party.
The following weekend, campaign workers went into the working-class and heavily Latino Mission District of San Francisco, where Mackler addressed people, soap-box style, in the streets.
On Aug. 17, Mackler spoke to a public meeting of over 50 people sponsored by the Social Justice Committee of the Fellowship of Unitarians and Universalists Church in Berkeley about the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the innocent Black journalist sitting on Pennsylvania’s death row.
“Mumia’s case is the final stages of the legal battle,” said Mackler. “Pennsylvania officials have sought resolutions demanding Mumia’s death from both the Philadelphia City Council and the state legislature.
“Two Philadelphia-based legislators have introduced similar resolutions before the U.S. Congress. The idea is to create an atmosphere in which Mumia’s execution would be seen as a plausible result of the litigation process. Our job is to do the opposite—to build a massive movement that will make the price of Mumia’s execution or continued incarceration too high for the system to pay.”
For the past 10 years Mackler has been on the leading edge of the struggle to free Mumia. A number at the Berkeley meeting volunteered to help with Mackler’s run against Feinstein.
On Sept. 4, Labor Day, campaign activists attended a San Francisco march for immigrants’ rights and signed up a dozen new volunteers to help get out the vote for Mackler.
On Sept. 9, Jeff Mackler was one of the featured speakers at the annual Power to the Peaceful festival, organized by musician and activist Mich-ael Franti in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The socialist candidate received a highly favorable response from the crowd of 40,000.
Global warming emergency
Speaking on Aug. 24 at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Dianne Feinstein unveiled her plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions, which would require power plants and major emitters of greenhouse gases to either cap emissions or obtain credit from other companies that have lowered their emissions below target levels. The program would also require that—10 years from now—cars be engineered to get at least 35 miles per gallon and that utilities meet a portion of energy demand with clean energy sources like wind and solar.
Commenting on the speech, Mackler stated: “Dianne Feinstein’s band-aid proposals fail to fully address the looming catastrophe associated with global warming, and can only be explained by her party’s subordination of human life itself to corporate profits.
“Contrary to Feinstein, we don’t advocate a 10-year tweaking plan to slightly increase the fuel efficiency of gas guzzlers and a trading of energy credits from so-called good-guy corporations to bad-guy polluters.
“We need a fundamental transformation of the entire automobile industry—which would retain its current workers and hire back all those who have already been laid off. That could be done by spreading out the available jobs through a cut in the workweek—that is, 30 hours of work for 40 hours pay—at top-notch union wages.
“Feinstein said nothing at all about mass transportation. But we say, retool the factories to build a world-class system of energy-efficient, free, and accessible public transportation. That would both make a real dent in the number of polluting vehicles on the road and be a gain, not a loss, for the autoworkers.
“Feinstein’s corporate polluter friends—and those in the military-industrial complex—don’t need deals to buy the right to kill; they need to be punished for their crimes and taxed to the tune of 100 percent of their profits until they act on the proposition that human life comes first.
“If the trillions spent on war were spent on the rapid development of safe and renewable energy sources today, the horrific predictions of scientists could be replaced with a bright and optimistic view, where generations to come will flourish in harmony with nature’s bounty. I fight for a socialist future where human needs are first and foremost.”
Speaking with military veterans
On Aug. 23, Mackler joined Carl Webb, an Iraq War resister and victim of the economic draft, on KPFA’s “Flashpoints” radio program with Dennis Bernstein. Webb explained how this war is not in the interests of the soldiers who fight and die, 99 percent of whom are working-class and poor youth.
Mackler lent his support to the antiwar sentiment and resistance of soldiers like Carl and added that his campaign is for “Bring the Troops Home Now!”
In addition to the radio interview, the campaign committee organized a public forum on Aug. 26 with Mackler, featuring both Webb and Paul Cox. Cox is a Bay Area antiwar activist who served in the Vietnam War, during which he worked underground helping to publish Rage, an antiwar magazine for GIs.
In the final weeks before the election, Socialist Action campaign supporters plan a full schedule of activities. A highlight will be a debate between three California candidates for U.S. Senate: Jeff Mackler, Todd Chretien of the Green Party, and Marsha Feinland of the Peace and Freedom Party. The debate—scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 10—will take place at the Socialist Action Bookstore in San Francisco; call (415) 255-1080 for information.
In late September, Mackler will embark on an East Coast speaking tour. He will be in Philadelphia, Sept. 22-23; New York, Sept. 25-26 and Sept. 29; Hartford, Conn., Sept. 27-28; and St. Petersburg, Tampa, and Dade City, Fla., Sept. 30-Oct. 1.
For information on Mackler’s speaking events, see the campaign website at http://www.socialistaction.org/macklerforsenate.htm Or send an e-mail to: email@example.com
Noted civil liberties fighters endorse the Mackler for Senate campaign
Among the endorsers* of Jeff Mackler’s campaign for the U.S. Senate are some of the country’s leading social and political activists.
• In early September, campaign director Mark Ostapiak announced that Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, had given his endorsement.
Ratner’s civil liberties defense organization won an historic victory against the U.S. government in the case of Rasul v. Bush, wherein the U.S. Supreme Court rejected U.S. government arguments and ruled that Guantanamo detainees were entitled to the due process rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.
• Civil rights and human rights attorney Leonard Weinglass has also endorsed.
Weinglass is the attorney for the imprisoned Cuban heroes known as the Cuban Five. The Five were victims of an infamous U.S. frame-up trial in Miami. The case of the Cuban Five exposed the U.S. role in aiding and abetting terrorist actions against Cuba. Weinglass is currently heading up the appeal.
• Lynne Stewart, the prominent human rights attorney who faces a 30-year prison sentence stemming from her frame-up trial and conviction on charges of aiding and abetting terrorism, has also endorsed Mackler’s campaign effort.
• Michael Steven Smith, an author, editor, and attorney, has also endorsed Mackler’s campaign.
Smith is the co-host of the New York-based WBAI Pacifica radio program “Law and Disorder,” a member of the board of directors of the Brecht Forum, and the author/ editor of “Che Guevara and the FBI.”
• Robert Meeropol has also added his name to Mackler’s Senate campaign effort.
Meeropol is the son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, victims of the McCarthy-era witch-hunt period who were executed on trumped-up charges of conspiring to give the Soviet Union the “secret” of the atomic bomb. Meeropol is executive director of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, an organization dedicated to aiding children whose parents are victims of unjust government persecution because of their support to the cause of social justice and human freedom.
• Also joining the list of endorsers is Heidi Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild.
*Organizations listed for identification only.