Flying Focus Video Collective

August 2004 Newsletter

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 country�but 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 complex situation.

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 Richer 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.


         Thanks to a generous donation, we were able to register the domain name ""
        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 Make Believe" 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.



Below is a short list of items we hope you can (and will) donate to Flying Focus, including volunteer time.
Please contact us if you have other items you think we might be able to use.
  • More editors certified at Portland Community Media
          (formerly Portland Cable Access).
  • Padded mailing envelopes7-1/4"x12" (Jiffy brand #1 is this size)
  • Mini-DV video deck or camcorder
  • D-9 (digital S) video deck
  • DVD recorder (stand-alone and for Mac G4)
  • New D-9 tapes, hi-8, mini-DV, and VHS tapes too
         (we have plenty of used tapes, thanks!).
  • A Macintosh G-4 with speed over 400mhz would be great.
  • Money, moolah, cash, checks, or money orders (no credit or debit though)

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