Flying Focus Video Collective
PMB 248 • 3439 NE Sandy Bv
• Portland, OR 97232
(503) 239-7456 • (503) 321-5051
Israeli Soldier, American Analyst: End Occupation Of West
Bank / Gaza
Two recent Flying Focus programs bring
unique perspectives to the Israel/Palestine debate. In "Refusenik! Israel's Soldiers of
Conscience" (VB #52.7&8), Israeli journalist and author Peretz Kidron speaks
about and reads from a book he compiled with the same title. The book features the writings of
dozens of Israelis who, like Kidron, served in the military but would not follow what they saw as
illegal orders, including enforcing the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Most of them were
sentenced to jail time as a result of their acting on their moral beliefs.
Kidron spoke in Portland in June, 2004, relating his own refusal during the 1982 invasion of
Lebanon. He points out that most of the Refuseniks are not pacifists, in fact they were proud to
serve their countryˇbut only when their country was following international law. Kidron is an
engaging and at times amusing speaker whose broad picture and detailed stories help clarify a
Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC, also spoke in
Portland on the issue of Israel's occupation. Bennis' talk at Reed College in February covered a host
of issues, including the connections between the U.S. policy in Iraq, Israel's occupation of the West
Bank and Gaza, and U.S. support of Israeli policy. Bennis, who follows affairs at the United
Nations, notes how the U.S. has repeatedly used its political power (and its veto power) to shield
Israel from numerous international condemnations.
Her talk was taped and edited by new Flying Focus volunteer Daniel Goldman, and is featured in
"Phyllis Bennis: Palestine and Occupation" (VB #51.4&5).
Portland Activist Brings Report From Italy's Women In Black Conference
Yvonne Simmons, local activist (and Flying
Focus member), traveled to Italy in August, 2003 to join women from around the world speaking
about peace issues. Part of a movement called "Women in Black," the conference included women
from countries currently at war, suffering the aftermath of war, and causing war. "Let's Dare
Make Peace: Report on Women in Black's 2003 Conference" (VB #50.11) also
includes photographs from the conference and a sample exercise in which women reclaim words
like "smart bomb" and "butterfly land mine" by deconstructing them.
The Economy Under A Microscope:Rich Get
New York Times columnist David Cay
Johnston visited Portland's First Unitarian Church in February, 2004 to speak about the economy.
Johnston clarified, through a sweeping and articulate examination, in a manner accessible to any
audience, our relation to the nature and history of the current U.S. tax regime. His analysis focuses
particularly on the context of how tax inequalities affect the middle and lower classes.
"Perfectly Legal: David Cay Johnston on Regressive Taxes and the Expanding Wealth Gap"
(VB #50.13&51.1) is a look at the reasons for the current, and exorbitant, upwards
shift in wealth, being subsidized by the poorer half of our culture, through the consistently
regressive tax laws passed by the Bush administration.
Working With Conflict
Two recent programs covered workshops
designed to help activists do work with less friction.
In "Values, Cultures, and Conflicts" (VB #51.8&9), Janet Bennett, Ph.D.,
described differences in communication between different cultures, both verbal and non-verbal. She
discussed the issues these differences can create if we are not aware of them and engaged the
audience to think about ways we can minimize conflicts that may arise from the clash of styles. Ms.
Bennett is the Executive Director of the Intercultural Communication Institute.
In "Anger Management" (VB #52.3&4), Stuart Watson, MPA, talked about the
benefits and costs of anger, emotional triggers, strategies for dealing with volatile situations, non-
violent communication, and ways to transform anger. His audience helped identify the kinds of
situations where anger can get the best of us. Mr. Watson is a certified mediator and the state
coordinator for the Oregon Network for Compassionate Communication.
CHECK US OUT AT FLYINGFOCUS.ORG
Thanks to a generous donation, we were able to register the
domain name "www.flyingfocus.org."
Most of the material on our website is
still the same, but you can now write to us at
you won't have to remember the long, old web address!
Occupation Of Iraq First Hand
The U.S. occupation of Iraq -- which did not
end on June 30th, no matter what the government and the mainstream media tell you -- is the subject
of two recent programs produced by Flying Focus.
The most recent, "Occupation Eyewitness: AFSC's Ten Months in Baghdad" (VB
#51.12&13), features Rick McDowell and Mary Trotochaud, American Friends Service
Committee (AFSC) Iraq Country Representatives. Rick and Mary lived in a Baghdad neighborhood
from May 2003 to March 2004. They witnessed terror, sorrow, hope, and anger. They saw
inspiring grassroots efforts to rebuild an Iraq struggling to come to terms with its past and the
present reality of occupation.
Sharing their insights and the thoughts of Iraqi friends and colleagues, they spoke to the human
cost of war and occupation with slides of "the Human Face of Iraq" in Portland in March. With
over a hundred thousand American troops in Iraq, Rick and Mary believe it is "critical for Iraqis to
observe Americans without guns." Rick and Mary explained the struggles of Iraqis, including lack
of educational facilities, lack of security, sporadic electricity, high unemployment, and widespread
imprisonment during the U.S. occupation. AFSC calls for an end to the U.S.-U.K. occupation and
the establishment of true Iraqi self-government.
In the second program, Medea Benjamin, well-known activist and co-founder of Global Exchange,
discussed her experiences in Iraq before and after the invasion. She spoke passionately of the plight
of the Iraqi people, many of whom have been thrown out of work while failed American
businessmen who do not know the language or culture are in charge of "rebuilding"
their country. She described the looting and lack of basic services and security that she witnessed
there and the effects on people's daily lives. She also talked about her new understanding and
sympathy for the U.S. troops who patrol 12-hour days, seven days a week, in flak jackets with no
air conditioning or showers.
Benjamin spoke about the lies told by our government and the damage done to the U.N. by the
invasion. She called on all of us to build a global community we can be proud of with love,
kindness and generosity.
Controversial Author Considers "The Culture Of
Noted author and environmental activist
Derrick Jensen delivers his thoughts on the state of our culture and its future prospects in a two-
part episode of the Flying Focus Video Bus (#50.5&6, "Derrick Jensen: The Culture of
Make Believe"). Jensen's conversational style touches on philosophy, psychology and why he
believes the only sustainable technology is from the Stone Age. Always dynamic, often
controversial, Jensen also considers the sources of mass denial and why he views pacifism as
problematic (a view most of us don't share at Flying Focus but an important point to debate). This
talk is based on his most recent book, "The Culture of Make Believe."
Jensen also shares his personal experiences of abuse, and discusses the relationship between
physical and sexual abuse in families and the institutionalized, mass abuse that he says our culture
commits on salmon, forests, and our most vulnerable citizens. The talk was presented at Portland's
First Unitarian Church in January.