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Letters to the editor

May 24, 2002 | Page 4

Where's justice in my case?
Paying tribute to Ira Kipnis

An unjust peace suits Arafat just fine

Dear Socialist Worker,

I believe that Eric Ruder missed the point in his article "Why did Arafat agree to an unjust peace?" (SW, March 29).

The PLO was supposed to be an active organization fighting against occupation and recruiting the Palestinian people into that struggle. But how is it at all conceivable that such a "revolutionary" organization can have the same leadership for more than three decades now?

Because Arafat was successful? Hardly. Rather, it was because the organization quickly became his personal fiefdom--along with a small circle of aides.

Well funded by ultra-conservative Arab oil sheikhdoms (what kind of liberation movement could that be?), Arafat and his chief PLO staff settled into a comfortable life of jet-setting and luxury accommodation. His mandate has never been democratically challenged. The Palestinian National Council, a sort of parliament in exile, was pruned of all dissent.

After Oslo, the remnants of the force that Arafat took out of Beirut eventually found their way to Sinai--where, under U.S. supervision, they were trained to become the Palestinian Authority security force, whose primary task would be to crush Palestinian resistance.

Arafat is a sham leader. As a figurehead he remains useful, and that is why the rank and file pay lip service to him. But he has no authority over his people and his orders (dictated by Israelis and Americans) are simply ignored.

So why did Arafat accept an "unjust" peace? Because it suited him. He doesn't really care. One of the first things he had built in Gaza was the VIP lounge at the new airport! This while most people do not have plumbing or sanitation.

Today, Arafat is the number one ally of Israel. If he was a real threat, they would have killed him years ago. Now that he has been "released," he must be looking forward to his next trip to Paris.

Tareq Ibrahim Ali, London

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Where's justice in my case?

Dear Socialist Worker,

On March 26, the First Circuit Federal Court of Appeals overturned my sentence of 10 years in prison for felony possession of a firearm. The opinion from the appeals court is a step towards justice, because I have been scapegoated for the death of Sgt. Cornel Young Jr.

Two white cops shot and killed off-duty Officer Young, who was Black. But I was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm at the scene.

I was originally charged with murder, but the attorney general dropped the charge after public protests. Judge Lagueux said that if I hadn't brandished a weapon, Officer Young would be alive today. But I was on the ground and in police custody when Officer Young was killed!

The appeals court ruled that my actions did not result in his death, that his death was accidental, and that Judge Lagueux abused his discretion by sentencing me to the maximum sentence. But now, I go back in front of Judge Lagueux for resentencing.

I didn't hurt anybody. The police killed Officer Young, and I am in prison for it. Where's justice?

Aldrin Diaz, Cranston, R.I.

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Paying tribute to Ira Kipnis

Dear Socialist Worker,

Ira Kipnis, author of The American Socialist Movement, 1897-1912, died May 5 at his home in Chicago.

In 1953, soon after publishing what is still considered the best book on the Socialist Party, he was called to testify at Sen. Joseph McCarthy's hearings on communist activity at the University of Chicago, where he taught history. He lost his job after invoking his Fifth Amendment rights.

Not one to let adversity slow him down, he entered law school at the same university. Kipnis was an accomplished pianist and had a Masters degree in music from Northwestern University. He went on to become an authority on the author George Bernard Shaw--and in 1970 returned to the University of Chicago to teach Shaw and constitutional law.

Prior to his illness, Haymarket Books committed to republish Kipnis' book on the Socialist Party. That project will go ahead as a tribute to Ira Kipnis--and as an excellent resource for a new generation of socialists.

Bill Roberts, Chicago

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