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September 27, I993 The Nation since 1865. 303 CONTENTS. Volume 257, Number 9 EXCHANGE 307 Politics
September 27, I993
The Nation since 1865.
Volume 257, Number 9
Politics and Pollution:
Bill Lynch, Jennifer Anderson, Jan Pierce
Frances Fox Piven, Dennis Rivera
Manning Marable, Per Fagereng, Michael Tomasky
E.P.A. Fiddles
While W.T.I. Burns
Liane Clorfene-Casten
Looking Forward:
Does Socialism Have a Future?
Robert Hedbroner
Saving the A.C.D.A.:
Lean, Mean Government
Disarmament Disarmed?
Marcus G. Rrrskin
Chancing Peace
Political Dragnet
More Plathitudes
Richard Lingeman
Dyson: Reflecting Black: African-
American Cultural Criticism
Robin D.G. Kelley
Heidenry: Theirs Was the
Mission to Mars
Calvin nillin
Kingdom: Lila and DeWitt
Minority Report
Christopher Hiichens
Wallace and the Story of
The Reader’s Dlgest
Benjamin Cheever
Szczypiorski: A Mass for Arras Miklds Vcimos
The Trials of Gregory K.:
Arthur C Danto
Children in Court-
The New Crusade
Andrew L. Shapiro
Illustrations by Robert Grossman
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from Gaza and the West Bank townof Jericho, beginsa diplo-
Chancing Peace
matic process that could‘ also quickly produce additional
agreements between Israel and Syria, Lebanon and Jordan,
N ’ot since the fall ofthe Berlin wall in1 989 has there
as well as a framework for regional economic cooperation.
been suchan exciting breakthrough ininternation-
Israel’s Labor government has broken the longstanding
al politics asthat achieved by the secret Norwegian
taboo against recognition of theP.L.O. as the representativeof
A 1 negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian offi-
the Palestinian people and, even more important, against the
cials. Forthe first time since the establishment of the Israeli
simple recognitionof the Palestinians as nation.
As Foreign
state in 1948 the core of the conflict is being addressed. The
Minister Shimon Peres told Israeli television, “If a land is peo-
five-year interim plan for Pal estinian autonomy, starting almost
pled by another people, thereis no sense to talk about landas
immediately with mutual recognition between the Palestine
though the land[is] empty.” The hoary Zionist myth of“a land
Liberation Organization and Israel, and Israeli withdrawal
304 Nation. The September 27. I993 But as hopeful as the momentis, it is premature to
September 27. I993
But as hopeful as the momentis, it is premature to celebrate.
beginning with Britain’s infamous Star Chamber prosecu-
Indeed, even if the initial phases of the
Israeli-Palestinian deal
tions, conspiracy laws have been used as often to stifle dis-
get off to a smooth start, which isnot assured, there willbe
sent as to punish lawbreaking.In the United States, conspirac
many obstacles along the way. Extremists on both sides op-
law was in part created through early nineteenth-century pro
pose the process. On the Palestinian side there isuncertainty
ecutions of workers’ leagues.It was a conspiracy conviction,
about how deep this resistance will be, and whether it will be
not murder, that placed nooses aroundthe necks of Chicago’s
placated or intensified by the limited Palestinian self-rule en-
Haymarket martyrs and led to thedeportation of immigrant
visioned. Much dependson whether violencecan be curtailed
radicals during and after World War I. Conspiracy was the
on both sides,
and on whether economic assistance is gener-
heart of the Smith Act prosecutions ofthe McCarthy era and
ous enough to
bring tangible improvements in the daily lives
was employed by Lyndon Johnson’s Justice Department
of those
Palestinians who may finally be emancipated from
against Vietnam draft protesters.
decades of Israeli occupation.
As scholar Herbert Packer wrote ofthe 1968 prosecution
By contrast, the 120,OOO-plus Jewish settlers, especiallythe
of Benjamin Spock, Marcus Raskin, WilliamSloane Coffin
hard-core Gush Emunim ideologues, have every reason to sab-
and others for conspiring to promote draft resistance, a con-
otage the interim Palestinian self-rule, and they are unlikely
spiracy charge is particularly “well suited to being used as
to be assuagedby the gradual pace of change in the territories.
a device for preventive detention.” Preventive detention of
They are heavily armed and have already demonstrated their
Sheik Abdel Rahman has been the demand from some quar-
willingness to turn to underground violence. Andthe tentative
ters all along. And conspiracy confounds the usual rules of
outlines of the Labor-Fatah deal leave plenty mom of for con-
evidence. Conspiracy isalso well suited to a case relying on
fusion, insecurity and provocation. Are the settlements in the
evidence gatheredby a government informant, who may well
Gaza Strip, with their 4,500 Jewish inhabitants, to remain?
have instigatedthe crimes he is now rewarded for uncovering.
If so, under whose authority? What if a settler is attacked by
From the beginning, this case had moreto dowith dernon-
Palestinians who fleeback to Jericho? What ifa band of set-
king the sheik and Islam than with hard facts.An F.B.I. agent
tlers goes on a rampage in a Palestinian town, as they have
captures the alleged conspirators while theyare “mixing the
in the past, to create a crisis?
witches’ brew,” preparing a “war of urban terrorism”-
There is a deeper, more subtle challenge to the peace plan:
language that resonates deeply inthe history of political re-
Did the weakness ofthe Palestinians-exhausted, financially
pression, from the nineteenth century through the cold war.
bereft, dipIomatidy ignored--lead to the acceptance of a bar-
“There has been a continuity in the imagery of subversion that
gain that will soon strike the younger generation as a betrayal
bears no necessary relation to any given enemy,” historian
of their quest for self-determination? The Israeli leadership
David Brion Davis has written.
must sell a solid majority of its own peopleon the wisdom of
If there is hard evidencethat Sheik AbdelRahman and the
negotiating such unresolvedissues as the extent and pace of Is-
others committed crimes, why level the insidious charge of
raeli withdmwal, the futureof Palestinian refugees, the eventual
conspiracy? If there isno evidence, why prosecuteat all? This
disposition of Israeli settlements, the transition from autono-
conspiracy trial is in some ways even more frightening than
my to sovereignty for the Palestinians and the partial
the murderously foolishraid in Waco. Like Waco,it suggests
tionalization of Jerusalem. If the Israelis are not forthcoming
a paranoid belief that small groups of extremists can some-
on these vital matters, the Palestinians will likely feel cheated
how bring down the Republic and must be stopped at any
and humiliated and resume armed struggle, probably under
price, UnlikeWaco, this was not a decision made in the heat
far more militant leadership than Yasir Arafat’s.
of the moment. Janet Reno said she hopes her Justice De
Here, we
should recall howthe harsh Versailles settlement
ment will be rememberedfor its commitment to civil rights.
imposed on Germany after World WarI paved the way for N~
But now she’s kowtowingto the conspiracy crowd.
ultranationalism, racist perversionsand militarism. The bitter
ironies of such a comparison should encourage Israel and its
friends, especially the United States,to satisfy Palestinianas-
More Plathitudes
pirations for real independence and sovereign rights. This
would provide Israel withby far thebest, and least painful,
security it has ever known.
D espite hershort life, SylviaPlotz has been the sub-
ject of a dozen biographies and innumerable
Political Dragnet
trashy articles in the press. The circumstances of
her death-she jumped or fell into a front-loading
weapons in the legal arsenal are more far-
washing machine ina London laundromat in 1964“and its
reaching than thevague charge of conspiracy; and
timing-she had recently completed the poems that made
few have a more odious history, particularly when
her literary reputation-vaulted her into posthumous fame.
politics are involved. So there are good reasons to
Time’s passage has fedthe legend: She wasunhappy; she had
worry about theJustice Department’s prosecution of Sheik
broken with her husband, the British poetEd Mews; she was
Omar Abdel Rahman and fourteen others for conspiracyre-
working on Blue Monday, a sequel to her novel,The Ball Jar,
lated to theWorld Trade Center bombing. From a shadowy
which would havemade her wealthy. (In The Bull Jar Sylvia